Orange Scented Carrot Cake

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I’ve been suffering from a severe case of bloggers-block recently. It’s been a while since my last post, and that’s not because I haven’t been baking, it’s just because I haven’t made anything worth blogging about. For weeks I’ve been pestering my friends and family, asking them what I should bake next with no prevail.

Then suddenly, on a cool spring night as I was lying awake in bed tossing and turning over my troubles, it hit me: something simple, something homely, something that succeeds at being light yet rich simultaneously… carrot cake.  

I’m exaggerating, of course. My sister actually gave me the idea because I was practically crying on my kitchen floor, rocking back and forth in the midst of all of my recipe books while stroking my whisk.

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Although I do love a good old fashioned carrot cake, I felt like jazzing mine up a little, and so, this particular carrot cake is “orange scented”. I added orange zest to both the batter and the creme cheese frosting in order to cut the sweetest of the cake with a tang and give it that extra “wow” factor. It tastes ah-maze-zing (“amazing” – for those of you who need a translation).

Here’s my recipe:

  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg (finely grated)
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 200g grated carrots
  • 75g chopped pecans
  • 1/2 large orange (only the zest)
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 175ml sunflower oil
  • 150g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 25g caster sugar

And for the frosting:

  • 200g full-fat cream cheese
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 1/2 large orange (only the zest)

Start by preheating your oven to 190ºC/375 ºF/gas mark 5. Grease and line a 10 inch spring-form cake tin and set aside for later usage.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, carrots, cinnamon and nutmeg, salt, baking powder and bicarb, the pecans and the zest of your orange. Mix all of these ingredients together until you can see that everything is nicely coated in flour (this is done so that when you bake the cake, the filling doesn’t sink to the bottom of the pan but is rather distributed evenly, and beautifully throughout the entire cake).

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Crack open all of your eggs into a separate bowl and whisk together until smooth and frothy. Add the oil an the two sugars and beat together until well combined.

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Add all of your dry ingredients to your wet and fold together until combined. Don’t over work the batter, beating in the flour like a maniac will develop the gluten in the flour and give your cake a tougher, bread like consistency (you don’t knead that).

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Transfer the batter into your prepared cake tin and pop it into your oven for 45-50 minutes. It took me 55 minutes to bake my cake because my oven is a old fart  because my oven is antique, so just make sure that when you check on it by inserting a skewer or toothpick into the centre of the cake it comes out clean; if it does, you’re good to go. Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before taking it out and allowing it to cool on a wire rack for a further 40 minutes.

In the meantime, you can make your frosting! Combine the cream cheese, butter and orange zest in a large bowl and cream together with a spatula to achieve a smooth consistency. Sift in your icing sugar and fold together gently; when the majority of the sugar is combined, switch to a whisk and beat until gorgeously smooth. Put your frosting into the fridge to firm it up before icing the cake.

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When the cake is completely cool, take the frosting out of the fridge and ice the cake generously, but delicately with your tangy, creamy frosting. To decorate, take a few chopped up pecans and scatter over the top.

TA-DAH! A beautiful, sweet, rich but light carrot cake with a orange-y kick!

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