The baking challenge.

Posted on November 10, 2011

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I have found myself frequently baking lately, I can cook and cook well, but baking has always been my weakness. With practice perfection is achieved, so in short I have been practicing a lot, attempting to master the classics before I move on to more complex concepts. There is something about the meticulous and measured art of baking which I despise, my cooking style is developed from intuition, tasting, touching and smelling till I know it’s right. Baking on the other-hand requires that I stick to the rules, listen and pay attention, concepts which I have never followed in my personal life. Here I reach my dilemma, I can’t learn unless I stick to the rules, there will be no mucking about, measuring will occur and I will refrain from crazily adding things last minute. I will post my successes, which may be minimal, but they will be tried, tested and ravaged. I will conquer baking for good….

The classic cake combination of sweet carrots, spiced cinnamon and tangy cream cheese is eternal. Cream cheese and carrot cake have a natural affinity, somewhat like the romance played out between tomato and basil. One is incomplete without the other. Carrot cake is perhaps one of the quickest and easiest cakes to make when your fridge is packed full of the star ingredient. Carrot cake should be moist and lightly spiced, never dry and one note in flavour. It takes less than thirty minutes to prepare and if there is any left over, it will keep in the  fridge covered for up to a week. Although many avid cooks have a tried and tested recipe for carrot cake, or have grown bored of this old classic, this is an indulgent and homely version to satisfy even the most disheartened carrot cake eaters. Personally, the thicker the icing the better, so I have made quite a big batch, if there is any leftover save it to serve with the cake. In my house there is always space for extra icing on the cake.

Recipe Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Carrot cupcakes, and my mother’s brilliant carrot cake recipe.

Indulgent carrot cake.

Ingredients:

23cm Springform pan

Cream cheese frosting:

500g cream cheese, bring to room temp

220g unsalted full fat butter, bring to room temp

1 1/4 cups  icing sugar

Extract of 1 vanilla bean

1 tsp lemon juice

Cake

2 cups plain flour

2 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch ground cloves

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Pinch Allspice

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarb soda

4 eggs

1/4 cup full fat milk

1 cup caster sugar

1 cup brown sugar

Extract of 1 vanilla pod

1 cup vegetable or canola oil

3 cups grated carrots

1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

 
Method:
 
  1. Preheat oven to 170C
  2. Grease springform pan with butter, cut out a circle of baking paper, the size of the pan, and place inside bottom, to prevent the cake from sticking.
  3. Sift the flour, dry spices, baking powder and bicarb soda together into a bowl. Repeat. 
  4. Using a stand mixer with a paddle, beat eggs, vanilla paste, milk and sugar on a medium setting until combined. Can easily be done by hand.
  5. Slowly beat in oil, then add the sifted flour mixture, beat until combined on low. 
  6. Add carrots and walnuts and mix on low until combined.
  7. Pour into springform pan, and cook in oven for 40-60 mins. Use a small skewer or butter knife to test if cake is ready at around the 40 minute mark, if the knife/skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready. 
  8. Leave to cool on a rack.
  9. Meanwhile, cream the cheese, butter, sugar and lemon juice in a mixer on high, until light and velvety in texture. Leave to cool in fridge, it will ‘smear” better. 
  10. Using a spatula, frost the cake with the mixture so that it is thick and even, it is important to frost the sides as well. There will be icing leftover, I like to serve it on the side for friends who eat carrot cake just for the cream cheese frosting!
  11. Serve with a small sprinkle of walnuts in the centre. 

Tips:

  • Use organic, locally grown or home grown carrots, the taste rivals any supermarket varieties and will drastically improve the cake.
  • Always grease the pan, and use baking paper. Carrot cake can get quite sticky.
  • The timing is an estimate only, it took me 55 mins as my oven is quite low, however I have cooked this at my mother’s house in half an hour. Always use a skewer to check progress.
  • PLEASE use full cream products, it’s a cake not a protein bar, eat in moderation.
 
 
 
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