I think we’re just coming into one of the nicest times of year. The dark, cold and dreary Winter is drawing to a close. Days are beginning to feel longer, even though the clocks haven’t sprung forward yet. Temperatures are rising languidly and a Bank Holiday weekend is just around the corner. Rejoice!
Some very food orientated months are coming up in the calendar and people are beginning to think about allotment patches, window gardens and maybe even dusting off the barbecue at the back of the shed – am I getting ahead of myself there?
Pancake Day is dispensed with and Lent is observed, before we embark upon the food extravaganza that is Easter. Spring lamb is roasted, Simnel cake and Hot Cross Buns are prepared and chocolate eggs are purchased. I feel like the last of the sprouts and turkey from Christmas were only polished off just the other week!
Mother’s Day and Easter always creep up on me. I think it’s due to the ever-changing dates, my own lack of organisation and being far too optimistic with how much time I have to get to things done. I always find myself grabbing a card and a bunch of flowers at the last minute and hotfooting it round to my parents.
This doesn’t mean I love my Mum any less than someone that treats their Mum to a day at a spa, or for a spot of afternoon tea. I’m just not great at conforming to these National Days when I’m expected to commemorate a certain person, I like for them to know I appreciate them all year round.
I try to show these people that I care by baking something that I know they’ll enjoy. I normally win my Mum over with a jar of lemon curd or some cake. In an effort to combine Mother’s Day and Easter, I have created something for the special Mum/Aunt/Grandma/Sister in your life, as well as something the Easter Bunny will enjoy too.
Carrot cake with a zingy cream cheese frosting is quite possibly my favourite cake. I like to tell myself it’s a bit virtuous because of the carrot, but that’s a lie. The combination of moist cake, nuts and frosting wins me over every time. I’ve tried a few vegetable cakes, from courgette to pumpkin, but carrot has to be the best of the lot of them.
This cake is so easy to make, it feeds 8 generously or 10 if you have some well-mannered dining companions.
175g Plain Flour (sifted)
2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Mixed Spice
200g Light Soft Brown Sugar
150ml Sunflower Oil
3 Medium Eggs
175g Carrot (grated)
75g Chopped Walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting
400g Full Fat Cream Cheese
200g Unsalted Butter (softened)
2 Tsp Lemon Juice
200g Icing Sugar (sifted)
25g Chopped Walnuts
- Heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 and line the bases of two 20cm round tins with baking parchment.
- Put the flour, baking powder and spices in a bowl. In a bigger bowl mix the brown sugar, oil and eggs until they are smooth and well combined.
- Add the carrots and the chopped nuts to the egg mixture and beat it well. Add the flour mix and gently fold in, until the flour is completely mixed in.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and bake for 25 minutes or until a cocktail stick or skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins and use this time to make the cream cheese frosting.
- Place half the cream cheese, the butter, lemon juice and icing sugar in a bowl and beat gently to mix them together. Once you have a smooth mixture, add the remaining cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy.
- When the cake is cool enough, place the first cake on a plate or surface that you intend to serve it on. Add 1/3rd of the icing on top of the cake. Take the second cake and turn it over, so the bottom is now the top, place this on top of the other cake. Pat the cake down gently so that the icing splurges out a little.
- Apply a light ‘crumb coat’ of icing to the cake, you’ll still be able to see the cake through this coat, but this makes the cake easier to ice and stops any crumbs sticking through the icing. Place the cake in the fridge and chill for 30mins.
- Leave your remaining icing at room temperature. Then remove the cake from the fridge and using a palette knife, ice the top of the cake smoothing it and then adding icing to the sides of the cake and smooth that too. You may have some frosting leftover, it depends on your tastes, you don’t have to use it all.
- Decorate it with finely chopped walnuts.