(*Arrghhhhh! I actually made and wrote in a draft this months bake a couple of weeks back as I knew I'd not be around this weekend - then promptly forgot to post it! :( Ah well, better late than never.)
Wow, time flies and I can hardly believe that it's already my 2nd Sweet & Simple Bake event!
Carrot cake was the order of the month and while I've made Carrot cake before this was a different recipe and I've never made with frosting so I was quite excited to make this tried, trusted and - yet again from S&S bakes - winning formula.
This is a wonderfully dark, moist and gently spiced cake and the cream cheese frosting makes for a nice, creamy light contrast on top. It went down a storm with my workmates alongside our 11 o'clock cuppa - I think the guys are coming to enjoy the monthly bake as much as me ;)
I didn't adapt the original recipe too much overall. Like last month's bake, I did substitute a very small amount of the sugar for sweetener. 200g=approx a cup so I filled it around 4/5th of the way with the brown sugar then topped off with the substitute. I never use a lot of sweetener just in case it affects texture and taste but it's nice to just take the edge off some of the naughty stuff if I get the opportunity.
I opted for individual cakes. A couple of months back I picked up an awesome giant muffin pan from Sainsbury's which I've been trying to find excuses to use at every turn. Did I say it made giant muffins? I really meant to say they're MONSTER SIZE MUFFINS!
You get a LOT of batter from this recipe so I was able to make 12 individual cakes.
I also made 25% extra of the cream cheese frosting than the original called for. I'd love to say this is because I remembered from my last experience that making things in multiple pans rather than 1 big cake creates a larger surface area to cover. The sad reality is I plopped too much cream cheese into the bowl and I couldn't be arsed to take it out again (I'm not even joking, haha!) That said, I still didn't have quite enough frosting to properly cover the last cake so I erm, *cough* well I ate that one. I had to destroy the evidence of my failure to calculate frosting quantities, obviously!
Amazingly, I've actually never made cream cheese frosting before, and I ended up a whisker away from messing it up terribly. I knew that the butter needed to be soft so I left it out the fridge most of the day and I took the cream cheese out about an hour before. I whipped it all up and it looked beautiful and silky smooth so I loaded my piping bag and popped it in the fridge for 20 minutes (not long enough but it was getting late in the evening and I was impatient) to firm up again to make it easier to put on top of my cakes.
When I started to pipe the frosting though I noticed it wasn't as smooth anymore but had a little bit of 'texture' to it. On looking it up on the web afterward I found out that the butter should only be taken from the fridge 2-3 hours prior so that it's soft, but still cool to the touch and the cream cheese should be the one left out all day. If not then the frosting is likely to curdle...I didn't even know it could curdle, meep!
My frosting may not be quite perfect but at least it didn't completely separate and unless you're specifically looking for it then chances are you'd not even notice the texture. I never mentioned it to my workmates and I certainly didn't see them take so much as a pause before woofing it down at any rate, hehe.
Another tasty success and a lesson in frosting learned. That said I'm not a huge fan of frosting and these cakes really are so delicious and moist that next time I'll probably just revert to leaving them plain, or possibly try it as a layer cake with the frosting in the middle making for a more subtle compromise.
So, without further wibbling, here's the recipe I ended up with.
180g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp mixed spice
2 eggs, beaten
150 ml vegetable or sunflower oil
200g soft light brown sugar
300g grated carrots
75g walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 Mix the eggs, oil, brown sugar, grated carrot, sultanas and chopped walnuts together in a large bowl.
2 Mix together all the flour, baking powder, salt and spices and then gently fold into the wet mix with a wooden spoon until combined.
3 Pour mix individual cake papers and place in a pre-heated oven gas mark 2/300 degrees for approximately 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Cream Cheese Frosting
90g room temperature cream cheese
90g softened butter
125g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Walnut halves for decorating
1 Beat the cream cheese and butter together.
2 Add the vanilla extract, icing sugar and mix well until it gets a smooth and silky texture.
3 Using a palette knife or a piping bag spread or whirl the frosting evenly over the top of the cooled cakes. If it's a warm day then you may wish to place the frosting back in the fridge for a little while after you've mixed it to allow it to firm up and be easier to work with.