A bestseller at The Hummingbird Bakery, this carrot cake is moist and full of flavour. You can vary how finely you chop the nuts for the sponge, and pecan nuts or walnuts can be substituted freely. For an extra special touch, decorate the top with mini carrots – these can either be formed by hand using sugar paste, or piped on using orange buttercream icing.
300 g soft light brown sugar
300 ml sunflower oil
300 g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra to decorate
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
300 g carrots, grated
100 g shelled walnuts, chopped, plus 75 g extra, chopped and whole, to decorate
1 quantity Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
three 20-cm sandwich cake tins, greased and base-lined with greaseproof paper
Makes one 20-cm cake, to slice as desired
600 g icing sugar, sifted
100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 g cream cheese, cold
Makes enough to frost 16 cupcakes or one 20-cm cake
Beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. It will have a sandy texture. Add the cream cheese in one go and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least five minutes. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.
Preheat the oven to 175°C (160°C fan)/Gas 4.
Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixerwith a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until all the ingredients are well incorporated (don’t worry if the mixture looks slightly split). Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed.
Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand until they are all evenly dispersed.
Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tins and smooth over with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cakes to cool for about ten minutes in the tins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
When the cakes are cold, put one on a cake stand and spread about one-quarter of the Cream Cheese Frosting over it with a palette knife. Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the frosting over it. Top with the last cake and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides. Finish with the extra walnuts and a light sprinkling of cinnamon.