Carrot Cake - Best of Memories
Memories of Carrot Cakes
I love a good carrot cake. Maybe it's because part of me pretends it's healthy. Maybe it's because I like the tangy icing on the top. Or possibly it's because it just goes so well with a cup of tea. Either way it's helped me celebrate some major milestone birthdays, and now my daughter is my expert baker.
No one knows quite when we started enjoying carrots in cake. There was a recipe in the late 1500s that had a carrot stuffed with meat, plus some of the other elements more commonly found in a cake (e.g, eggs, cream, sweetener). However most believe it was a European thing, when carrots were used to give cakes some sweetness because sugar was so expensive. In 1814 we had the first formal reference to a Carrot Cake in a cook book, when Antoine Beauvilliers published his recipes and the Carrot Cake was in there.
In the UK, Carrot Cakes took off in popularity during the second world war, when again sugar was difficult and expensive to find. It might also have helped when carrots were linked to better eyesight, for wartime pilots at night. You can almost imagine the kids at the time looking to the skies munching their way through slice imagining flying the planes of the time.
For me though it invokes some great coffee shops (English Heritage at Dover Castle used to do a huge slice), and some great birthday creations. One year we went the whole hog, with carrots on top and even thicker cream. However I'm now double the man I was so things need to be a bit more measured, as is the cake recipe below...
For the carrot cake
- 450ml/16fl oz vegetable oil
- 400g/14oz plain flour
- 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 550g/1lb 4oz sugar
- 5 free-range eggs
- ½ tsp salt
- 2½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 525g/1lb 3oz carrots, grated
- 150g/5½oz shelled walnuts, chopped
For the icing
- 200g/7oz cream cheese
- 150g/5½oz caster sugar
- 100g/3½oz butter, softened
- For the carrot cake, preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Grease and line a 26cm/10in cake mould.
- Mix all of the ingredients for the carrot cake, except the carrots and walnuts, together in a bowl until well combined. Stir in the carrots and walnuts.
- Spoon the mixture into the cake mould and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the mould and set aside to cool completely on a cooling rack.
- Meanwhile, for the icing, beat the cream cheese, caster sugar and butter together in a bowl until fluffy. Spread the icing over the top of the cake with a palette knife.