Carrot Cake

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It is necessary to work quickly to make this recipe succeed. Everything is whipped to incorporate a lot of air and the dry ingredients are quickly folded through at the end. The whipped egg whites result in a fantastic crisp meringue-like top on the cake. We have a number of mixers, so we can have everything mixing at one time, but for a home kitchen you will get the best results working in the order listed within the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 70 g ( oz) walnuts
  • 150 g ( oz/1 cup) self-raising flour
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • teaspoon ground cloves
  • teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 55 ml ( fl oz/about 2) egg whites
  • 60 g ( oz/¼ cup) sugar for egg whites
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 160 g ( oz/¾ cup) sugar for egg yolks
  • 170 ml ( fl oz/ cup) extra light olive oil
  • 125 g ( oz) carrots, peeled and grated

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 20 g (¾ oz/1 tablespoon) icing (confectioners’) sugar, plus extra, for dusting
  • 20 g (¾ oz/1 tablespoon) butter, softened
  • 145 g ( oz) cream cheese (preferably Neufchâtel)
  • 40 ml ( fl oz/2 tablespoons) pouring (whipping) cream (35% fat)

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Grease an 18 cm (7 inch) round cake tin and line the base and side with baking paper — the paper should protrude about 2.5 cm (1 inch) above the tin.

Place the walnuts on a baking tray and cook for 4–5 minutes, or until lightly roasted. Cool and cut into thirds. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt into a bowl. Repeat to ensure they are evenly mixed.

Put the egg whites in a very clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks start to form. Slowly pour in the sugar for the egg whites, while the motor is still running, being careful not to overmix — the meringue should reach soft peak stage. Quickly transfer the meringue to another bowl and set aside until needed.

Put the egg and egg yolk in the bowl of the electric mixer and add the sugar for the egg yolks. Mix on high speed for 3–4 minutes, or until the mixture doubles in volume and is quite airy. With the motor still running, slowly pour in the oil in a thin stream being careful that it doesn’t split or deflate too much.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and with a spatula or gloved hand, gently fold in the flour mixture until combined. Fold in the carrots and walnuts. Quickly and lightly fold in the meringue — do not fold it through completely, you should still be able to see streaks of meringue through the mix. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. You may need to drop the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) after the first 30 minutes if the top is browning too quickly.

Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting. Cream the icing sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until pale and smooth. Add the cream cheese in small amounts, allowing it to be completely incorporated before adding the rest. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl during this process to ensure even mixing. Add the cream and mix until smooth, being careful not to overmix at this stage or the cream may curdle and separate. If using a different type of cream cheese for this recipe you may need to add a little more cream — the frosting needs to be of a spreadable consistency but not at all runny.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Using a serrated knife, slice horizontally through the centre of the cake to form two even-sized layers and fill with cream cheese frosting. Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar to serve.

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