Perfect Carrot Cake

I found this accidently through a link on Facebook, as you do these days, and you’ll find the links at the bottom of the page.  Carrot cake is my husband number one favourite, and is usually disappointed when we go out for coffee when so often the carrot cake he hopefully chooses is dry.  I tried this one with my fingers crossed and I’m pleased to say I got a definite ‘thumbs up’ as it’s really moist and scrumptious.

Helen Graves, author of the blog Food Stories, suggests adding a little orange zest to the icing, which lifts the flavour and I’ve made my own little tweaks.  I grated the orange zest off the fruit ahead of time so I could then squeeze out enough juice to soak the sultanas in – for at least half an hour.  You can hurry it up a little by ‘nuking’ it very briefly in the microwave as the warm juice seems to soak in more readily.  This really added to the moistness of the end result.  Also, I found the cream cheese came in a 200g pack so I increased the amount of sugar in the icing mixture so I could use the whole packet – I didn’t regret it!

 Using brown sugar rather than icing sugar gives a lovely toffeeish flavour which I much prefer.

 (I must apologise for not being quick enough to get a photo of the whole cake, by the time I got to it with the camera, this was all that remained!)

150g butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
150g soft light brown sugar
3 free-range eggs
200g self-raising wholemeal flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
100g sultanas or raisins
200g carrots, peeled and grated
100g pecans, toasted and roughly chopped, plus extra to decorate

For the icing:
150g full-fat cream cheese
50g light brown soft sugar
Zest of ½ lemon and a squeeze of juice

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line the bases of 2 x 18cm sandwich tins.

2. Put the melted butter, sugar and eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk well until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the mixture has almost doubled in volume.

3. Sift together the flour, bicarb, salt and spices and then fold very gently into the liquid mixture, being careful to knock as little air out as possible. Fold in the remaining ingredients and divide between the tins. Bake for about 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tins.

4. Meanwhile, beat together the icing ingredients and refrigerate. When the cakes are cool enough to ice, remove from the tins, top one with half the icing, and then the other cake. Ice the top, and decorate with the remaining pecans.