Monday, 10 March 2014

Tried and tested - Carrot cake from Sainsburys magazine

I don't know about you but I'm always eager to seek out the ultimate carrot cake. Having tried so many recipes from my array of books, online and magazines I make a mental note of the memorable ones. The carrot cake is an odd thing, it lies somewhere between a special occasion cake and a tea time treat. One being a luxurious, moist, dense cake with a cold cream cheese frosting and the other being a light but moist, slightly spiced crumbly bake with tangy frosting (I guess you could say this'd be the more traditional carrot cake we all know and love). Either way, all deserved of a spot in my cake recipe repertoire. For me it's absolutely essential a carrot cake should contain nuts. 

I had to buy this months Sainsburys magazine purely for this recipe. But then I'm easily swayed to purchase one way or another. I guess you could say it's more the 'American style' carrot cake, made with oil as the fat content, plain flour and lots of carrots (400g that's loads, about 5-6 medium size carrots). 

The recipe didn't say, but I like to do a variation of finely and coarsely grated carrot. Aesthetically it's nice to see the carrot but too coarser texture makes the mix more uneven  and too "carroty" if that makes sense. The finely grated makes for a moist mix. 

So it's easy, it's basically two bowls:  one of flour, spices, sugar, oil and eggs. The other - carrots, nuts, sultanas and lime zest. 

The mix is one that's wet and sloppy, with bright green and orange from the pistachios and carrots. I bung the nuts in the Magimix and pulse, I like the contrast of larger pieces, smaller chips and fine green sand. This makes for a good distribution of nut within the cake. Like the fact that the green from the pistachio subtly colours the cake, which gives it another dimension. 

Once well mixed it was easily evenly divided between three (20cm) sandwich cake tins, it has a lovely pouring constancy. 

What I liked about this recipe is that it only takes 25-30 mins in a 160 degree oven. The result is a wonderful glossy, spongy bake. 

It's quite important to combine the cream cheese mixture really well. I made the slight mistake of the butter not being completely soft, I see why the recipe said "really soft" now. No matter how much I whisked, the little flecks of butter remained as the cold yoghurt and cream cheese from the fridge cooled it down. This was a small error on my part, you live and learn!

After completely cooled the first layer of frosting goes on. 
I decided to do half the quantity the recipe stated. I'm not one for loads and loads of icing. Not only that, the original recipe states 400g of Philadelphia cheese....that's 2 whole tubs!!!!!
In hindsight I perhaps wouldn't have even used one whole tub, as this makes for a wet/cold frosting which I feel the need to refrigerate. The Greek yoghurt gives it a lovely tang, but I accentuated with a good squeeze of about half a lemon. For the next time I do this I will use let cream cheese and perhaps more icing sugar, so it's somewhere between a buttercream and a frosting. 

And here it is, after a dusting of cinnamon. Beautiful and moist. One to be eaten with a fork I feel. 

I'd recommend this recipe to anyone. Well done Sainsburys!


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