I feel like I’m having a quarter-life crisis. And when you don’t know what to do with your life or where you’re going, what better than a little procrastibaking to stop yourself thinking?
This is my favourite carrot cake recipe. I usually make it without the addition of walnuts and raisins, but I thought I would put them in this time to try it out. All in all I think I prefer this plain without the walnuts and the raisins, but I’m generally not a fan of nuts in cakes. This cake is REALLY moist, I think it’s the addition of apple sauce. The most important thing is to finely grate the carrots to get an even and smooth texture which is more cakey than muffiny (does that make sense?).
This icing is the only cream cheese icing I will eat and not scrape off and leave to one side, it’s really light and not overly sweet!
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar this time)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup apple sauce
4 eggs, room temperature
3 cups finely grated carrots (about 6 medium carrots)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts (optional)
3/4 cups raisins (optional)
Cinnamon Mascarpone Icing
100g mascarpone (at room temperature)
200g full-fat cream cheese (at room temperature)
100g icing sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 160°C
Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with baking paper.
Finely grate the carrots.
Place the walnuts in a frying pan and lightly toast on medium heat until fragrant and coloured but not burnt (about 5 minutes). Set aside and leave to cool.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugars, apple sauce, and oil using an electric whisk. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until just blended. Add the flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in the vanilla and grated carrots.
Set aside 1/4 cup of walnuts. Finely chop the rest and add, along with the raisins.
Divide the batter equally between the two prepared pans. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans for about 10 minutes, then turn onto cooling racks, peel the baking paper off, and cool completely before icing (MAKE SURE you cool completely before icing, I was in a hurry and the icing started melting as I iced the cake!). You can make the icing as the cakes cool.
Cinnamon Mascarpone Icing
Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk with an electric whisk for about 5 minutes, until smooth. Ice the top of one layer, place the second layer on top and ice the top and sides. Decorate with the walnut crunch (recipe below).
Walnut Crunch Decoration
Melt 3 tablespoons of sugar in a small non-stick saucepan. When the sugar has turned a dark amber colour, remove from heat and add the 1/4 cup of reserved walnuts. Stir to coat the walnuts, then tip everything onto a sheet of baking paper and leave to cool (the caramel will harden). Once cooled, roughly chop into a crumbly texture and use to decorate your cake. Adds a really nice crunch to it and is also delicious on it’s own if you leave the walnuts whole!