Carrot Cake with Coconut and Cream Cheese Icing

I love my National Trust Teatime Baking Book for traditional British baking. I had carrots and coconut to use up, and started from their carrot cake recipe.

This isn’t gluten-free, and doesn’t have pineapple nor raisins (oh, the horror – no, really, just don’t), but I made use of my new ‘mini’ springform tin. I’ve added my usual idiosyncratic twists for something light, spicy, and creamily delicious.

Serves: 8

Ingredients
For the cake:

  • 60g self-raising flour
  • 60g spelt flour (or wholewheat, sifted)
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 60g desiccated coconut (this can be a combination of nibs and curls, to your liking)
  • 3 large eggs, separated (they should total 190g – 210g when weighed in their shells)
  • 110g soft light brown sugar
  • 85ml (80g if weighing) vegetable oil
  • 195g grated carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
  • Butter, to grease tin

For the cream cheese icing:

  • 1 small orange (or, a clementine/satsuma), all of grated zest and 1/2 juice
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 160g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 210g icing sugar
  • 1/8 tsp ground mace (or some freshly grated nutmeg)
  • 10g desiccated coconut nibs; plus extra dried coconut curls for decoration

Kit

  • An 8″ (20cm) diameter round tin, either springform or loose-bottomed
  • Baking/parchment paper cut to line tin
  • 3 mixing bowls
  • Electric mixer (hand-held or stand)
  • Spatula
  • Oven-safe plate
  • Manual whisk
  • Cooling rack

Steps
Making the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 190 C (170 C fan-assisted). Grease the bottom and sides of your tin, and line the bottom with baking paper ensuring it covers the join of the ring.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir the flours, bicarb, spices, and coconut together.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks, starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high speed.
  4. In another bowl (no need to clean the beaters), whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until creamy, again starting at low speed and gradually increasing to high speed. Add the oil, whisking briskly until the mixture is very light.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to to the wet, with the carrots, without stirring. Add 1/3 of the egg whites and fold briskly, to loosen the mixture; then add the rest of the whites and fold very gently until no white lumps or streaks remain.
  6. Pour the batter into your prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for around 40 minutes, turning the tin halfway through for even baking, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool the cake in its tin on a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes or until safe to handle. Slide a spatula/palette knife around the side and turn out the cake onto the rack to fully cool.

Making the cream cheese icing:

  1. When the cake has baked, turn the oven off. Spread the orange zest on an oven-safe plate, breaking up any clumps, and put in the oven (door ajar) to dry out as the oven cools.
  2. Manually whisk all ingredients (except coconut curls) very gently until combined. Take care not to over-work it – the more robust you are, the thinner the icing will be. Put the bowl into the fridge to firm up as the cake cools.
  3. Pour/spread the topping over the fully cooled cake. Sprinkle over the dried orange zest, plus coconut curls to garnish.

Layer Cake
If you’re adept (and I’m not) at slicing a cake in half horizontally, there is enough icing here for a layer cake. Or, you could use 2 standard-sized sandwich tins and bake the layers separately. Just be careful about timings – they should only take about 20 minutes – and smooth a depression in the centre of the cake which will become the bottom layer, which will make a flatter rise.

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