This is my first attempt at carrot cake, I have often thought about making it but never got around to it. My eldest daughter was asking for it on Sunday and we placated her with the bought version as we were out and about, but I thought I should give it a go and surprise her with it when I picked her up from school. She was of course unimpressed, as five-year old’s are when the moment has passed for them. Oh well, I was impressed with it and think it’s very tasty indeed, but I do hope someone will help me out with eating it or any good intentions for the New Year are straight out of the window.
My version is based on the recipe for Passion Cake in Best-kept Secrets of the Women’s Institute Cakes and Biscuits by Jill Brand, except I added cinnamon to the cake mix, used pecans instead of walnut and made my version of icing using a mix of icing sugar and soft light brown sugar.
I wonder why it used to be called Passion Cake? You very rarely see it called that now, it sounds far more tempting than carrot cake. In fact when I was young I wouldn’t entertain the idea of carrot cake – it sounded too weird. Then I braved it one day. I can still remember it, the trepidation, followed by the surprise that it was absolutely delicious and sweet. I wasn’t expecting that!
For the cake:
225g (8oz) butter, softened
225g (8oz) soft light brown sugar
4 eggs, separated
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
175g (6oz) wholemeal self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
50g (2oz) ground almonds
115g (4oz) pecans, chopped chunkily
350g (12oz) carrots, peeled and grated
For the icing:
40g (1½oz) softened butter
40g (1½oz) cream cheese
25g (1oz) icing sugar
50g (2oz) soft light brown sugar
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp lemon juice
pecan nuts to decorate
Grease and line a 20 cm (8 inch) round cake tin and preheat the oven to 180°c (gas mark 4).
Whisk the softened butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks and then add the lemon zest and juice. Sieve the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into the bowl, making sure you add all the bran left in the sieve when you have finished. Fold this gently into the mixture. Stir in the ground almonds and the pecan nuts.
In a very clean bowl and using very clean whisks beat the egg whites until stiff. Add one-third of the egg white to the cake mix and mix in well. Add the carrots and mix in well. Fold in the remaining egg white very carefully to keep as much air as possible.
Spoon into the prepared tin and level the top. Bake on the middle shelf for 1 to 1½ hours until golden and firm to the touch. I baked mine in the baking oven of my Aga and it took 1 hour and 10 minutes to cook, so do check at 1 hour and then keep checking.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for ten minutes and then remove to a cake rack and leave to cool completely.
To make the icing, mix the butter and the cream cheese until really well combined. Add the icing sugar and the soft light brown sugar and beat well until smooth, stir in the grated lemon zest and the lemon juice.
Spread on top of the cake and decorate with pecan nuts.
Take a big slice, make a cup of tea and enjoy!