Yes, yes. I'm starting to wish I'd never invented the tradition of putting that picture on every birthday post, but I can't very well stop now.
Happy Birthday Mum!
She gave me two requests for birthday baking - carrot cake, and brownies. I've made brownies before (here), but carrot cake is new for me.
Actually, that's not strictly true. I have made carrot cake before, and several times. But I'm loathe to admit it because they well all a long time ago, and they were all from... wait for it... a recipe. You have to let me off because this was before I decided that recipes were all that is wrong with cooking! But yes, I used a recipe.
And it was actually really good. It was so popular that people asked me to make it again and again. So I used my faithful recipe and everyone kept telling me how delicious it was.
I imagine you can see where this is going. See, my mum requested carrot cake and of course I told her I would make it. And of course I knew that I couldn't use the recipe I had used before. It would go against all of my principles. So I was under quite a lot of pressure. Because everyone else would be expecting this carrot cake to be just as good as (if not better than) it had been when I'd made it before. They weren't to know that I'd deliberately got rid of my previously-successful recipe.
All I could do was have faith in my methods and hope it would all be OK. So here is my ingredients list, with reasoning:
- I started with the basic sponge cake ratio and method (parts one and two), and used a quantity based on 200g of flour.
- Most of these changes are actually pretty much the same as those for courgette cake, because they do similar things.
- First, I decided how much carrot to use. I looked at some recipes to see what the consensus was and they were almost all around three-quarters of the weight of the flour. So in my case, 150g of grated carrot.
- As with courgette cake, the fat is almost always changed to oil rather than butter. This is generally accepted to make it more moist and dense, and generally carrot-cake-y. If I used butter, the cake would probably be a bit more dry and would seem more like just an ordinary cake with bits of carrot in. Which is fine obviously, but as I was aiming for "carrot-cake" and not just "cake with carrot", I used oil. Vegetable or sunflower is fine, olive would give it a more distinctive flavour, which you may or may not want - it's up to you.
- I used brown sugar instead of white, because I thought it would suit the kind of cake, and make it nice and moist and dark and sticky.
- Then I did the same thing as I did with courgette cake. The carrot adds some moisture, structure and flavour, which means that you don't need as much sugar, fat or egg in the cake. So I reduced all of those down to 150g too. 150g of sugar, 150g of oil, 150g of egg (3 eggs).
- Again, in the same way as courgette cake, I also used baking powder. With the oil instead of butter, and adding a lot of carrot, there's more of a risk of it sinking and becoming too dense. So add the usual amount of baking powder - 1tsp per 100g of flour. 2tsp of baking powder.
- Finally, no carrot cake is complete without some spices. I added 1tsp of cinnamon and 1/2tsp of nutmeg.
The method is easy-peasy, it's basically the same as for sponge cake but just including some extra bits.
- Put the eggs and sugar together first, and beat them for a couple of minutes to get plenty of air in. This isn't as vital when you're adding baking powder too, but it's still part of the process.
- Add in the oil and mix that in too.
- Mix in the flour and other powdery things - baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Now add the carrot and mix it all together.
- Put it in a tin or pan or whatever you like, and bake it at about 180C.
Oh! And, because it was a birthday cake, I actually (sort of) iced it. I say sort of, because it wasn't so much decorative as splodging some nice tasting stuff over the top and in a layer in the middle. But it's still an achievement by my standards. To make the icing, I went radically away from my usual rational standards. By this point, it was quite late at night, I was tired and had already been baking for several hours. So I sort of made it up as I went along. But It turned out pretty well! My approximate method:
- Get a tub of cream cheese. A small one - 200g. Put it in a bowl.
- Add a spoonful of butter - just a tablespoon or so, no need to measure it.
- Add some icing sugar.
- Taste it.
- Repeat steps 3-4 until you're happy.
- Put it on the cake. You might want to put it in the fridge for a bit first if it's got soft from being mixed a lot.