Love carrot cake, but been disappointed by how dry and tasteless it can be? Then I’m happy to inform you that this cake is going to satisfy you no end!
Stuffed full of nuts, fruit and carrots (obviously!), this is an incredibly tasty cake. Not only that; it’s insanely moist thanks to its secret ingredient – crushed pineapple (which also happens to be the secret ingredient in this highly popular Christmas cake). Topped off with lashings of cream cheese icing and, trust me when I tell you, you’ve got a bona fide winner.
Eager to get the very best result (given how much I loathe dry carrot cake), I combined a couple of different recipes. I used the basic cake recipe, with its added crushed pineapple, from the good old Edmonds Cook Book (the New Zealand cook’s faithful guide for over 100 years) And, then I borrowed some suggestions for extra spices and flavour enhancing ingredients from the recipe of another of New Zealand’s long-running institutions – Chelsea Sugar. Together, they truly do make the BEST EVER carrot cake (PS: I have rarely, if ever, used the term ‘Best Ever’ – but felt it was justified in this case!).
By the way, ordinarily I’d convert the recipe to gluten-free – simply adding gluten-free flour mix instead of the standard flour (which you can totally do if you choose). On this occasion, however, I used organic Italian flour which, for whatever reason, my gluten-sensitive family and I can tolerate really well. Hey, and by the way, if you do prefer gluten-free AND uber healthy, you might want to check out this version, packed full of nutritious ingredients (other than the frosting, that is)!
Ready to give this ‘best ever’ carrot cake a go? Read on!
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar (or you can use raw or coconut sugar)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 3/4 cup rice bran or canola oil
- 2 cups standard flour (or use gluten-free flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 cups grated carrot
- 3/4 cup - from a 225g (7.9 oz) can - drained unsweetened crushed pineapple in juice
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup sultanas or raisins
- Optional: 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (use one medium orange)
- 50g (1.7 oz) butter, softened
- 125g (4.4 oz) cream cheese
- 1-1/2 cups icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
- Preheat oven to 180C (360F). Grease a 23 cm (9 inch) cake tin - 6 cm (2.5 inch) deep - and line base and sides with baking paper.
- Beat together eggs, sugar and vanilla essence for 5 minutes until thick.
- Add oil and beat for 1 minute.
- Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and spices into a large bowl and set aside.
- Combine carrot, pineapple, walnuts, sultanas, coconut and orange zest. Fold into egg mixture. Then fold in dry ingredients until just combined.
- Spoon mixture into tin and smooth surface. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (you may find you need to lightly cover the cake with foil part way through the bake once it's brown enough). Leave in tin for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool.
- Beat butter and cream cheese together until combined. Stir in icing sugar, then beat mixture on high speed until light and fluffy.
- Once the cake is cold, spread the cream cheese icing over the surface and decorate as you like (I used chopped dried apricots, chopped pistachios and edible flowers), then serve.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting