Carrot cake by Claire Ptak

Carrot cake by Claire Ptak

For some years, I resisted adding carrot cake to the Violet repertoire. I didn’t understand its appeal. Yet nearly every day at Violet, an innocent, unassuming customer would walk in, look around at the 20 or so gorgeous cakes on offer and ask, “Do you do a carrot cake?” It became obvious that the carrot cake filled a certain emotional void for many people. I decided not to deny them, but to make a carrot cake that even I would love.

Makes one double-layer 23cm cake, serving 12, or 24 cupcakes
For the sponge
carrots 250g, grated
unsweetened desiccated coconut 100g
pecans 100g, lightly toasted and chopped fine
vegetable oil 400g
vanilla extract 1½ tsp
caster sugar 400g
eggs 2
egg yolks 2, plus 4 egg whites
plain flour 320g
baking powder 1 tsp
bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp
ground cinnamon 2 tsp
salt ½ tsp

For the cream cheese icing/filling
unsalted butter 200g, softened
cream cheese 250g
icing sugar 750g, sifted
vanilla extract ½ tsp

Preheat your oven to 150C fan/gas mark 3. Butter 2 x 23cm cake tins and line with parchment paper, or line 2 x 12-cup muffin trays with paper cases.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the carrots, coconut and pecans and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the vegetable oil, vanilla, 200g of the caster sugar, the 2 whole eggs and the egg yolks until foamy. Add this to the carrot mixture and fold together well. Wash and thoroughly dry this bowl, ready for the egg whites.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon, and fold into the egg and carrot mixture until barely combined.

In your clean electric mixer bowl, whisk together the egg whites, salt and the remaining 200g of caster sugar until the mixture forms stiff, meringue-like peaks. Fold this into the carrot mixture until just combined. Either divide the mixture between the two cake tins, levelling the tops with a palette knife or spatula, or scoop it into the cupcake cases, filling each case half-full.

The whole cakes will take about 1 hour to bake and the cupcakes about 25 minutes. The cakes are ready when an inserted skewer comes out clean.

To make the icing, in the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the butter until it is light and creamy. Add the cream cheese and beat well. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat on a low speed for 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, then add the vanilla and beat for another 5 minutes.

Use the cream cheese icing to decorate the cupcakes or to fill and ice the top and sides of the whole cakes – or you can just ice the tops of each cake and sandwich them together.

The icing can be kept at room temperature for a couple of hours; otherwise store it in the fridge for up to one week. Before using, remove from the fridge and let it soften for about 20 minutes, then whip again for about 4-5 minutes.

Use a timer; the beating will take longer than you realise. OFM