Ah the carrot cake. Say those words to a Singaporean and they tend to think of that hawker centre dish, known both as ‘carrot cake’ and ‘chai taw kway’. Crispy, fried goodness of a steamed radish cake (much like the kind at dim sum restaurants), quick fried in a wok with caipoh (pickled radish – such salty goodness), eggs, sometimes with prawns and chili, and topped with spring onions. Here’s an example.
But no, I am talking about carrot cake. Sweet and moist carrot cake, made with orange-y carrots, studded with raisins, and topped with icing. I’m not fond of cream cheese frosting, sorry guys. Plus my Mum always makes hers with a lemon icing, so when I saw this one recipe from BBC Good Food, and found that one last orange lost in my fruit drawer, I knew this was the cake for me. And it was perfect.
It all started with a kids’ TV show. Harry the Bunny to be exact. It’s a cute little show that stars a rabbit, who talks to the camera about various kiddie things. And one of these things he was talking about was carrots in one episode and carrot cake in another. So Wee Reader asks if we can have carrot cake.
So oddly enough, while my Mum loves making and eating carrot cake, and I’ve helped her make carrot cake many times before, I’ve never made carrot cake myself. Why is that? Why do I always stick to those things I always make like brownies and chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies. Oh perhaps because they have that life-giving essential ingredient, chocolate. And carrot cake doesn’t.
But sometimes there is a need for something that is not chocolate-y.
Wee Reader of course insisted on helping.
Yeah you know what happened? I skimmed over the fact that they used ‘self-rising flour’ and forgot to add extra baking powder to my plain flour.
And so thanks to Harry the Bunny, Wee Reader and BBC Good Food, I made carrot cake. Here’s the recipe and my adaptations:
- 175g light muscovado sugar – I used brown sugar, which is all I have
- 175ml sunflower oil – I used vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 140g grated carrots (about 3 medium) – I added an extra carrot!
- 100g raisins – I presoaked them for a while in some water, just to plump them up
- grated zest of 1 large orange
- 175g self-raising flour – I only have plain flour and didn’t read it properly! (See here for DIY self-raising flour recipes)
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon – I used just 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon as I’m not fond of cinnamon, and also added 1/2 tsp ground ginger and a few shakes of allspice
- ½ tsp grated nutmeg (freshly grated will give you the best flavour) – nope didn’t have any
Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C. (about 350F)
Oil and line the base and sides of an 18cm square cake tin with baking parchment. The easiest way to do this is to cut two long strips the width of the tin and put each strip crossways, covering the base and sides of the tin, with a double layer in the base. (I used a silicon loaf tin and so didn’t need to oil or line)
Tip the sugar into a large mixing bowl, pour in the oil and add the eggs. Lightly mix with a wooden spoon. Stir in the grated carrots, raisins and orange rind.
Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then sift into the bowl. Lightly mix all the ingredients – when everything is evenly amalgamated stop mixing. The mixture will be fairly soft and almost runny.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40- 45 minutes, until it feels firm and springy when you press it in the centre. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out, peel off the paper and cool on a wire rack. (You can freeze the cake at this point.)
Beat together the frosting ingredients in a small bowl until smooth – you want the icing about as runny as single cream. Set the cake on a serving plate and boldly drizzle the icing back and forth in diagonal lines over the top, letting it drip down the sides.
Recipe from Good Food magazine, May 2002
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