You know when you’re little and you have a bad experience of a certain type of food and you decide never to eat it again, well mine was carrot cake. I remember being eight years old, not a fussy eater, a lover of chocolate (that hasn’t changed) and in the mood for a piece of cake in my school canteen when I first tried carrot cake. It was absolutely horrible, a big slab of cake with big chunks of tough carrot squashed into a dry sponge. This was not my idea of a desert, I vowed never to have carrot cake again.
However the other week Craig and I decided to head down to Brixton to get something from the food market for lunch. But this wasn’t just any regular market day in Brixton it just so happened to be ‘the Great Brixton bake off!!’ I never even knew this existed but thank god it does. Rather than food stalls mapping out the stretch of the market, every stall, and there must have been at least 30 of them, was filled with cake and free samples of it too! It was absolutely amazing.
After going up and down the 30 stalls, trying samples, one way and then back I decided I better invest in a cake. My eyes feasted on a salted caramel banana cupcake which I must say was very delicious, however Craig, a lover of carrot cake found a slice the size of a brick and costing only £1.50 thought he better spend his money wisely. Offering me a bite I didn’t have high expectations but I was pleasantly surprised to discover it was absolutely delicious. The texture was moist, the buttercream deliciously sweet and it was a three layer cake, therefore a super big slice. Luckily for me Craig is quite a generous soul so I ended up having probably ¾ of the cake!
It’s been about two months since I had that slice but just writing about it now is making me hungry. I can safely say carrot cake, when well done, is one of my new favourite types of cake. So a week later with carrot cake still on the brain I decided to try my luck and bake one. Using Sara Lewis’ recipe I went for the carrot and walnut cake as the picture looked very inviting.
The ingredients are:
150ml (1/4 pint) sunflower oil
175g (6oz) self-raising flour
175g (6 oz) light muscavdo sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
Grated rind of ½ orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
150g (5 oz) carrots, coarsely grated
50g (2 oz) walnuts, finely chopped
1) Put the oil, eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth. 2) Add the flour, baking powder, orange rind and ground cinnamon and whisk again until smooth. Stir in the grated carrots and chopped nuts. 3) Divide the mixture between 2 x 20cm (8 inch) sandwich tins, greased and base-lined with oiled greaseproof paper, and level. 4) Bake in a preheated oven, 180*C (350*F), Gas Mark 4, for about 20 minutes until the tops spring back when pressed. Cool for 5 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack and peel off the lining paper. Leave to cool. For the maple frosting
250 mil (8 fl oz) maple syrup
2 egg whites
pinch of salt 5) Pour the maple syrup into a saucepan and heat to 115*C (240*F) on a sugar thermometer. As the temperature begins to rise, whisk the egg whites and salt in a clean bowl until stiff. When the syrup is ready, whisk into the egg whites in a thin trickle until the frosting is like a meringue mixture. Keep whisking for a few minutes more until very thick. 6) Cut each cake in half then sandwich the layers together with frosting. Transfer to a serving plate, then swirl the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Decorate the top with walnut pieces. Overall despite buying the shelled almonds which took forever to crack open and left flaky bits of shell on the cake, it turned out to be a success! I could’ve done with using a bit more of my frosting for the middle but that’s definitely something I’ve learned for next time and trust me there will be a next time!