The use of carrots in pudding/cakes has been around since the 14th century, with many iterations as the centuries have gone by. One of the first known uses of carrots in a pudding also included meat and other spices. I’m glad the recipe has progressed beyond the use of meat.
When you think of carrot cake, you probably picture the ubiquitous orange cake covered in thick icing decorated with bright orange and green carrots made of icing. Nothing wrong with those cakes; I would never say no to a slice of store-bought carrot cake - unless it had pineapple in. No pineapple here, please. No matter what version you like, carrot cake is delicious.
The carrot cake that I make is sweet, soft and moist, speckled with pecans and topped with gingery icing. The icing is my favourite part. It’s gingery, sweet and tart from the cream cheese and lemon. Combined, it’s the perfect bite of sweetly spiced nirvana.
Lien and I are making the cake this Sunday. I’m trying to convince her to use real cream cheese and not the old cashew cream “cheese” she found in her fridge. We’ll see….
I use a kitchen scale and bake using the metric system, but if you need the measurements in “cups”, I’ll add it here.
If you want to learn more about the history of carrots in puddings or cakes, click here. It’s quite impressive.
I tested multiple recipes, and made multiple cakes, and this version is the best so far. My friend Olivia and Alex agree, as they were my official taste testers. They disagreed on the nuts, as Alex felt there were too many, and Olivia thought it was perfect. I adjusted and met them halfway.
Note: you will need a springform pan, at least 6 to 8 inches.
200 grams plain flour - 1⅔ cups
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger - I like to use organic
¼ teaspoon of sea salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
175 grams soft light brown sugar - ¾ cup
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
225 grams of softened butter - 1 cup
200 grams carrots grated - 1 ⅓ cup
100 grams pecans pieces chopped into rough chunks - 1 cup
Oil to grease your pan
100 grams unsalted butter - ¼ cup + 3 tbsp
150 grams icing sugar - 1 ½ cup
1 teaspoon potato starch
200 grams full-fat cream cheese - 8 oz
1 x 15ml tablespoon fresh ginger (coarsely grated)
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
¼ cup of milk, use as needed
Preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C ), heavily grease the bottom and sides of your springform pan, or you can add parchment paper to the sides and bottom of the pan.
In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground ginger, nutmeg, and salt into a bowl and mix together.
With your stand mixer or your hand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and eggs together. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of your bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture, continually scraping your bowl down until the flour is fully incorporated. If your mixture is stiff, don’t be tempted to add any liquid; once you beat in your carrots, the mixture will loosen up. Beat in your carrots and mix for 1-2 minutes; add your pecans and continue to mix until all the nuts are incorporated into the batter.
Spoon your batter into your prepared baking tin. Tap your tin on the counter to release air bubbles, smooth the top and then place it inside your preheated oven for 40-55 minutes. The cake is ready when the top is golden brown, and an inserted toothpick or skewers comes out dry. Wet batter on the skewer means the cake is not set. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a cooling rack to cool in the tin.
Icing time! Beat the butter and icing sugar together until smooth. Add the potato starch, cream cheese, ginger and lemon juice. Slowly add some of the milk. Beat until combined and creamy. If you need to add more milk, you can do so. Don’t overmix the icing, or it will become softy and runny. The icing should be fluffy and soft. Place the icing in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
After your cake has cooled, remove it from the pan and transfer it onto your cake tray or plate.
Ice your cake, decorate with extra pecans, and you’re set!