Carrot Cake made with butter – and, of course, it has a traditional cream cheese frosting.
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Oil in cakes
I like carrot cake, and I really want to really like it. But the truth is that I haven’t ever had a slice and thought, This is fabulous! Until now. And that’s because this carrot cake is made with butter. My problem with carrot cake is that it’s usually made with oil and I don’t like the oily texture and I can always taste it. The other problem I have with using oil is that the only oils I use are olive oil and coconut oil – and they aren’t good in cakes.
Simplifying a magazine recipe
So this recipe is not one that I’ve been making for years but I’ve made it quite a few times since I found it in a Sunday magazine. I was delighted to see a recipe for a carrot cake that uses butter but it definitely wasn’t an Everyday recipe.
It exemplified a couple of problems that I find with magazine recipes:
- They use too many ingredients and some of them you would have to buy specially and would probably never use again
- The method isn’t simple or straightforward.
As these are two of the requirements for recipes for Everyday Cooks, I had to makes some changes.
1. Reduce the ingredients list
First of all, I simplified the ingredients list. You may wonder what I took out as it’s still a long list, but the main thing was to stick to items in my store cupboard:
- I always have ground almonds in my fridge (nuts keep better there). I use them in a lot of cakes as they improve the keeping time
- The original recipe had sultanas in it and I only had raisins, so I used those. The cake was delicious. It doesn’t matter which you use. (I’ve used sultanas as well and both work equally well.)
- The recipe called for unsalted butter. Although I often keep some in the freezer, I don’t find it makes much difference for the Everyday Cook so I used salted for this and it’s still fabulous
- I substituted a good orange extract for grated orange zest because I didn’t have any oranges in the house and extract is quicker anyway. Obviously, use zest if you prefer – I like Steenbergs Organic Orange extract.
2. Simplify the method
Secondly, I made the recipe as easy as possible:
- For everyday recipes, I use the all-in-one method where all the ingredients (except fruit and nuts) are mixed together in one go. I generally use a food processor or stand mixer to make it easier and quicker. The results are very good and the cake will only be marginally better if you add the ingredients separately. I tried both methods with this cake and all-in-one is fine
- I don’t bother to sift flour or icing sugar for these cakes as modern products are generally pretty good and don’t have lumps.
If I were making this carrot cake for a really special occasion, I might go to all the extra effort. Actually, I’m trying hard to think what that occasion might be – so maybe not! Either way, this is now one of my favourite cakes.
Carrot Cake - with cream cheese frosting
For the Carrot Cake:
- 200 g peeled carrots, start with 250g unpeeled
- 100 g pecans
- 250 g butter at room temperature
- 300 g soft light brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 200 g plain/all-purpose flour
- 60 g ground almonds
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (2.5ml)
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder (7.5ml)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (10ml)
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (2.5ml)
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger (2.5ml)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5ml)
- 1 teaspoon orange extract (5ml)
- 100 g sultanas or raisins
For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 50 g butter at room temperature
- 100 g full-fat cream cheese
- 300 g icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon orange extract (5ml)
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/ 150°C fan/ gas mark 3/ 325°F
- Grease the tin and line the base with a baking parchment circle (see notes)
- Peel and coarsely grate the carrots
- Roughly chop the pecans
For the cake:
- Weigh all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl except the carrots, sultanas and pecans (Butter, Sugar, eggs, flour, ground almonds, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla and orange extracts)
- Use an electric mixer to beat together until you have a smooth mixture
- Add the carrots, sultanas and pecans and mix in with a large spoon to avoid chopping them up
- Pour or spoon the mixture into the greased and lined tin and level the top with a knife
- Cook for 60-90 minutes. It's cooked when you can insert a skewer into the middle of the cake and it comes out clean
- Cool in the tin.
For the frosting:
- Measure the ingredients into a medium-sized bowl and beat together until smooth - but don't overbeat
- Take the cooled cake from the tin and put onto your serving plate
- Using a palette knife, smooth the icing over the top and sides of the cake.
Everyday Cooks Tips:
- If the butter is still hard, soften for 1 minute on defrost in the microwave. Repeat if necessary, but don't let it melt
- Like most cake recipes this is easiest with a mixer or a food processor. At the least, you can use hand-held beaters
- Use pre-cut baking parchment circles to line the base of the tin
- This cake is best kept in the fridge, or a very cool place, once the frosting is on. It keeps well for at least a week in an airtight container in the fridge. Use within two days otherwise.
- The un-iced cake will keep in an airtight container for at least a week without refrigeration, but as always, keep it as cool as possible.