It’s been a while since I’ve had any birthday baking to do but September is the start of birthday season in my family. I am the lone family member with a birthday at the beginning of the year and over the next three months we’ll be celebrating eight birthdays! I am also a firm believer that no birthday is complete without cake and as I love baking, I tend to be the provider of celebratory sweet treats and it gives me the perfect excuse to spend an afternoon soothing my soul. I love trying out new recipes and can spend hours paging through my recipe books to get ideas and so to kick things off I pulled out all the stops for my mom’s birthday on Monday and whipped up the most delicious carrot cake – and if I do say so myself, this was hands down the best cake I have ever made. The soft sponge just melts in your mouth while the nuts and pineapple add a little crunch. While I don’t enjoy eating cake as much as I enjoy the baking part, I am such a sucker for carrot cake and made myself feel rather ill after licking the batter, the icing and tucking into the one tier that didn’t quite go to plan! This recipe is so quick and easy to make – the most challenging part was grating the carrots which when done by hand, made a fair amount of mess and proved rather tiring. I’m generally quite a tidy baker and clean up as I go but somehow things went south on Sunday afternoon and the kitchen looked like a bomb hit it – luckily the cake looked rather fabulous and showed no signs of the chaos that ensued during it’s making!
The recipe makes a lot of batter and you’ll get a three tiered cake out of it. I don’t always read the recipe properly in the sense that I get the jist of what’s needed and promptly start baking – something that has come back to bite me on more than one occasion. Long story short, I made too little icing as it also uses meringue icing but as the cake would be huge with three tiers, I chose to use only two and the third one I cut up into mini carrot cake squares – of which my husband demolished three quarters before I managed to intervene and save some for the office. The best part about this cake apart from its deliciousness is that it’s healthy too – packed full of beta-carotene and nuts!
This recipe is from my Cakes to Celebrate Love and Life recipe book by Callie Maritz and Mari-Louis Guy and has loads of mouth-wateringly delicious recipes for any occasion. I received so many compliments about this cake but honestly, it’s all in the book! This is a must for cake lovers and retails for around R260 from Exclusive Books, Yuppichef or Amazon.
* 350 g flour
* 7.5 ml bicarbonate of soda
* 10 ml baking powder
* 15 ml ground cinnamon
* 15 ml mixed spice
* 400 g brown sugar
* 315 ml vegetable oil
* 65 ml apricot jam (melted)
* 4 eggs
* 2 cups grated carrots (roughly 2 large carrots)
* 1 cup crushed pineapple (drained)
* 60 g mixed nuts (I used chopped pecan nuts)
* 250 g firm cream cheese
* 250 g butter (softened)
* 280 g icing sugar
* 5 ml vanilla essence
* Sift flour, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon and mixed spice together in a food processor
* Add sugar, jam, oil and eggs and mix well
* Stir in the pineapple, carrot and nuts
* Separate the mixture into three round, greased baking tins (the recipe says 18 cm but I used 20 cm)
* Bake at 180 degrees for 30 – 35 minutes. Before removing from the tins, leave to cool on a wire rack – I tried to take them out before they were cool and the base stuck a bit)
* To assemble, ice the top of two tiers and stack, then ice the whole cake. As mentioned, I only iced two layers together so you may need more icing if you are using all three layers.
This cake makes a fabulous desert paired with a glass of wine or is the perfect accompaniment to a steaming cup of afternoon tea with the girls. It’s so easy and forgiving but will make you look like a contestant on the next Masterchef!
It’s almost champagne Friday!