I wasn’t sure what incarnation of carrot cake to choose for my new book. Should it be a regular cake, layered with cream cheese, or perhaps some little muffins to be devoured at breakfast and lunch?
I settled on a twist on traditional cream cheese frosting. You can use many different techniques to put a special “stamp” on your frosting.
Smooth frosting works well, but this swirling technique is a great skill to master. Just follow the step-by-step method below.
I like to do a thin layer of frosting first, for a crumb-coating, and then place the cake in the fridge for this to firm up before applying the swirled top coat.
350ml vegetable oil
6 medium eggs
350g soft light brown sugar
250g carrot, grated
60g granny smith apple, grated (about ½ apple)
350g wholemeal or regular self-raising flour
finely grated zest of 2 oranges, plus extra to decorate (optional)
1tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
2tsp mixed spice
1tsp ground cinnamon
seeds of ½ vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 quantity maple syrup cream cheese butter-cream
2 x 23cm round loose-bottomed cake tins
hand-held electric whisk or stand mixer
rotating cake stand (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200°C and line the cake tins with baking parchment.
Place the cake ingredients in a bowl and whisk it all together well in a stand mixer or with a hand-held electric whisk.
Divide the mixture between the lined tins and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are springy to the touch, smell cooked and a skewer inserted in the centre of each cake comes out clean.
Once the cakes are cooked, remove them from the oven and leave them to cool in the tins.
When the cakes have completely cooled, make the maple syrup cream cheese butter-cream; using a palette knife, sandwich the cakes together with a good amount of the butter-cream, then spread a very thin layer over the top and sides so that the whole cake is completely covered (see recipe intro left). Place the crumb-coated cake in the fridge to set for 10-15 minutes. When the crumb-coating has set, spread the remaining butter-cream all over the cake, getting it as smooth as you can with a palette knife.
To create the swirl coating, put the cake on a rotating cake stand and hold a palette knife vertically at the base of the cake, applying a little pressure.
Turn the cake stand quickly and keep holding the palette knife at this angle. Gradually move the palette knife up the cake as you turn it on the rotating stand until you reach the top edge of the cake.
To decorate the top of the cake, start at the outside edge. Holding the knife at a 45-degree angle, rotate the cake as you gradually move the knife into the centre of the cake. Sprinkle over the orange zest to decorate, if using, and serve.
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