As the warm summer days draw to a close and more thankfully our bodies are no longer called upon to be bikini ready - let’s drown our sorrows for the soon to be forgotten sunshine filled days with a good old slab of cake, and just in time to tuck into with tonight’s second helping of bake-off as well. Slightly delayed is this post for Garden cake as last week was cake week in the tent whereas this week is all about biscuits however, it is always a good time to indulge in cake and this is a very good cake to indulge in indeed. Largely taken from Justin Gellatly’s Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding cookbook; just scaled up and paired with my favourite orange cream cheese frosting; this cake is scrumptious. Sweet; lightly spiced; nutty and mind-blowingly moist. I love a good carrot cake, in fact it is my favourite of all cakes and this is up there with the best I’ve tried. Walnuts and courgettes are a very wonderful and welcome addition too but, do perhaps warn any eager eaters who aren’t avid bakers that the green flecks in the sponge are in fact courgette and most definitely are supposed to be there and no your wonderful cake is not speckled with mould. How very dare you!?
Makes 1 ginormous and delicious 3-4 tier naked layer cake, aren't you lucky?
For the cake:
190g carrots, peeled and grated
190g cougette, grated
210g walnuts, finely chopped
zest of 1 1/2 oranges
330g caster sugar
330g light brown sugar (yep, that's one hefty amount of sugar to coat my teeth but also one delightful dollop of sweetness to fill my belly. I know which one wins for me!)
450ml vegetable oil
450g plain flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
3/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
a pinch of salt
For the cream cheese icing: (For the most tantalising, terrific icing you have ever tasted in your life, please see below:)
100g softened unsalted butter
250g full fat cream cheese
zest of 1 orange
600g icing sugar
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/ fan 160°C and grease and line the bottom of 4x 20cm loose-bottom cake tins.
2. Add the grated carrot and courgette to a large mixing bowl with the chopped walnuts and orange zest and mix well.
3. Add the eggs, sugars and oil and beat well for a couple of minutes with an electric whisk.
4. Sieve in the flour, spices, baking powder and bicarb and fold in until fully combined.
5. Pour equal amounts into the prepared cake tins and bake for 30-35 minutes until bronze, risen and the surface springs back when pressed gently with a finger. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
6. Prepare the icing. Add the softened butter, cream cheese and orange zest to a bowl and sieve in the icing sugar. Beat together until thick, stiff, pale, smooth and fluffy.
7. Sandwich each layer together with icing, covering the cake entirely and scraping the sides with a clean spatula to remove excess and create a naked layer look. Scatter with edible flowers and mint leaves.
Note. I produced 4 layers of carrot, courgette and walnut cake however, only used three layers to make my cake as I felt it was tall enough. If you feel the same, why not make cake pops with the remaining sponge? Just crumble your cake to fine crumbs and stir in some remaining cream cheese icing before moulding into small balls. Place on a baking paper/parchment lined tray and cool in the freezer until fairly solid. Melt white chocolate and coat the cake balls before returning to the freezer to dry the chocolate. To decorate why not stick on a crystallized flower or two before the chocolate dries?
8. Tuck in!
Thank you for reading!