The ultimate carrot cake
Serves 12 | prep 35 mins | total time
For the cake
- 275g plain wholemeal flour, sifted
- 2½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp mixed spice
- 225g light muscovado sugar
- 4 medium eggs, beaten
- 175ml vegetable oil
- 175g pecans, roughly chopped
- 250g carrots, peeled and grated
- 125g sultanas
- zest of 1 orange
For the icing
- 250g mascarpone
- 100g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp orange juice
For the caramel ‘carrots’
- 200g caster sugar
Make the cake the day before you want to eat it, adding the carrot decorations just before serving (make these on the day). The uniced cake can also be frozen.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas 4. Grease and line an 18cm-deep loose-bottomed round cake tin with baking paper.
- For the cake, place the flour in a large mixing bowl with the baking powder, mixed spice, muscovado sugar, eggs and vegetable oil. Beat with an electric hand whisk to combine. Stir in 125g roughly chopped pecans, then the carrots, sultanas and orange zest.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin, making a dent in the centre with the back of the spoon. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Peel off the baking paper and leave to cool completely.
- For the icing, put the mascarpone in a large bowl with the icing sugar and orange juice. Beat well with an electric hand whisk until smooth and glossy.
- Using a serrated knife, slice the cooled cake in half horizontally, then spread the cut side of the base layer with a thin layer of icing. Top with the other half of the cake. Coat the outside of the cake with a thin crumb coating (a very thin layer to seal in any crumbs). Place in the freezer for 20 minutes, then coat with a final thick layer. Sprinkle the remaining chopped pecans around the bottom edge of the cake, gently pressing into the sides.
- For the caramel carrot shards, heat the sugar in a saucepan until melted and very runny, spoon a dessertspoonful of the caramel onto a greased baking sheet, dragging it downwards to a slight point. Flatten it with the back of the spoon to create a carrot shape; repeat until you have 5 'carrots'. Dip a fork into the remaining mixture and move back and forth at the thicker end of each carrot to create the leafy tops. You will have enough caramel to make extra carrots if any of them break. Leave to cool and harden, then insert into the middle of the cake.
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