Light Carrot Cake with a Candied Carrot Top

Carrots are good for you in all sorts of ways — or so they say in any case they are a sweet and versatile vegetable and I particularly like them in cakes. The texture of this one, made with oil, is lighter than usual, and the brilliant orange candied carrot topping makes it a conversation-stopping cake.

Ingredients

  • 100 g/4 oz self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 175 g/6 oz caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 225 g/8 oz carrots, finely grated
  • 1 level teaspoon cream of tartar

For the candied carrot top

  • 225 g/8 oz carrots
  • 1 lemon
  • 225 g/8 oz granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water

Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Line an oiled 17.5-20 cm/7-8 in round cake tin with oiled greaseproof paper. Sift the flour, salt and caster sugar into a bowl. Add the oil, water, vanilla essence and egg yolks and beat or whip thoroughly to make a smooth batter. Stir in the grated carrots. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they stand in soft peaks. Fold into the batter gently with a metal spoon. Transfer to the prepared cake tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 114 hours. Insert a sharp knife in the centre; if the knife comes out clean, take the cake from the oven and leave it in the tin for about 10 minutes. Then loosen the edges with a knife and turn on to a wire rack to cool.

While the cake is cooking, make the topping. Peel the carrots and, using a food processor, slice across as finely as possible. Coarsely grate the lemon rind and squeeze out the juice. Put the sliced carrots, lemon rind and juice, sugar and water into a saucepan and boil fiercely for 6-10 minutes until a blob of the syrup dropped on a cold plate sets. Leave in the saucepan to cool.

When the cake is cold, put it on a serving plate and spread the candied carrots over the top. If the syrup has become too stiff, add a tablespoon of water and reheat a little to make it spreadable. Serve the cake with cream.

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