I developed this recipe from a collection of Carrot Cake recipes and it has proved to be very popular indeed. The combination of the sweetly-spiced sponge with the slightly tangy icing makes it appealing for any palate. The use of oil over butter means that as far as cakes go, this is a healthy one.
For the sponge
- 1 orange (juice and zest)
- 1 lemon (juice and zest)
- 120g sultanas
- 250g self-raising flour
- 1/2 tsp ground/ grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1tsp sweet mixed spice
- 400g light brown sugar
- 350ml vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 350g grated carrots
- small handful of chopped walnuts (optional)
- 2 tbsp caster sugar (optional- see “Variation”)
For the icing
- 150 g cream cheese
- 75g warm unsalted butter
- 300g icing sugar
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC and grease and line two 20cm sandwich tins.
- Grate the zest of the lemon and orange and put to one side. Soak the sultanas in the juice from both fruits until ready to use.
- Combine the flour, sugar, spices and some of the zest (keep the rest for the icing).
- Beat the eggs, add to the oil and pour into the dry mixture.
- Throw in the carrots and sultanas (with some of the juice) and mix all together. Do not throw away the remaining juice as you may need it for the icing.
- Divide the cake mixture between the two sandwich tins and bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Take out and leave to cool.
- Cream the warm butter until fluffy, add the cream cheese and combine. Then slowly add the icing sugar and mix well.
- Add the remaining orange and lemon zests. If the icing is too dry then add a tsp of the lemon/ orange juice. On the other hand, if the mixture is too wet, add more butter rather than icing sugar to reduce the risk of a grainy icing.
- When the cakes are completely cool spread on the icing and finish with a sprinkling of the chopped walnuts. Divine!
Now, I agree that this cake is a little labour intensive, but it is absolutely worth it. Once you’ve tasted it, every time you make it in the future (which, I’m certain your family and friends will demand you do) it will become a labour of love.
Personally, I prefer my cakes to have a little tangy hit and so I like to make a deliciously sharp syrup by heating half of the remaining lemon/ orange juice with 2 tbsp of caster sugar until the sugar has melted and the liquid has thickened. Prick the top of both cakes and spread the syrup on top. Leave to absorb before coating with the icing.