On Sunday it was my dad’s birthday. Now I know what you’re thinking, this guy is pretty lucky to have had a Father’s Day celebration and a birthday all in the space of a week (I know I would be pretty happy). So just when he was finishing off the leftover tiramisu, he was able to look forward to his birthday, and with that, some delicious food! After a day relaxation, we took him out for a delicious dinner in the evening, and then there was only one thing left to do: eat birthday cake. This is by far one of the most exciting things about birthdays if you ask me.
When it comes to picking a cake to make for my dad, it was pretty easy. I am so indecisive when it comes to baked goods, as there are so many to choose from! How can you pick just one? However, with my dad, there is only one cake that has his heart. He is absolutely obsessed with carrot cake. Well, let me rephrase. He does enjoy carrot cake, but he is absolutely obsessed with the combination of carrot cake and cream cheese icing. After all, it’s not really a good carrot cake without a thick coating of cream cheese icing about the same size as the cake itself.
Dad takes his icing-to-cake ratio very seriously, as I have learnt through previous experience. Last year, I made two carrot cakes and took one of them into work to ensure it didn’t go to waste. However, little did I know that I had accidently taken in the cake that had the better icing-to-cake ratio, and as a result I was in the bad books with dad for a couple of days. So I needed to make sure this year that I got it right.
My first step was to halve the carrot cake recipe that I used, as it is for quite a large cake. This would avoid comparison of icing-to-cake ratio between cakes, ensuring that no one got disappointed (ahem, dad). Secondly, I ensured that I made about enough icing to ice a 3 tier wedding cake, just to make sure that there was enough to go around. I felt like doing these two steps would ensure that we didn’t have an issue like last year, because I think you are beginning to realise where I get my obsession with baked goods from.
It was hard to find a recipe initially that dad would like, because he hates pineapple in carrot cake. He once told me ‘Ella, it’s not a pineapple cake, it’s a carrot cake. Pineapple shouldn’t belong in a carrot cake.’ I think it was a valid point, however I didn’t realise how hard it was to find a recipe for carrot cake that doesn’t have pineapple in it. They are few and far between! The entire internet must disagree with my dad about pineapple, because it seemed that every recipe I looked at had pineapple in it. However, I finally found a recipe without pineapple that seemed really nice, and decided that as it was so good last year when I made it, I would make it again.
It is a little interesting going back and writing this blog, and trying to remember what I did, as I baked the cake on a Friday night and decided it was a good idea to have some wine before, during and after baking. I do have to say it made the whole experience really fun, and even though I was a little less careful than I usually am with my measurements, the cake was perfect in the end! I think in future I will always accompany my Friday night baking with wine, it made for a really enjoyable Friday night activity!
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
|Adapted From||Gimme Some Oven|
|Preparation Time||20 minutes|
|Cooking Time||30 minutes|
Carrot Cake Ingredients:
· ¾ cup and 1 tablespoon of olive, vegetable or canola oil (I used olive but if you want a more subtle taste use vegetable or canola)
· ½ cup of caster sugar
· ½ cup of brown sugar
· 3 eggs
· ½ tablespoon of vanilla extract
· 1 ½ and 1/8 cups of plain flour
· ½ tablespoon of ground cinnamon
· 1 teaspoon of baking soda
· 1 teaspoon of salt
· ½ teaspoon of baking powder
· ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
· Pinch of ground cloves
· 226 grams or ½ pound of grated carrots
· Optional: ½ cup of chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:
· 250 grams of cream cheese at room temperature (I used one Philadelphia block)
· 115 grams or ½ cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
· ½ tablespoon of vanilla extract
· ¼ teaspoon of salt
· 3 cups of icing sugar
· Optional: 1 cup of walnuts for decorating
Making the Carrot Cake
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Grease a cake pan and put a circular piece of baking paper in the bottom in order to make it easier to get the cake out. You could use two smaller pans and make a two tier cake if you wanted!
3. In a large bowl, using an electronic beater, mix together the oil, caster sugar and brown sugar until combined and smooth.
4. One at a time, add in the eggs, whilst still beating in between. Then add in the vanilla, and mix until smooth. The mixture should thicken upon addition of the eggs.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves until combined.
6. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, beating on a medium speed in between to ensure each batch is fully incorporated before adding more. Once completely added, scrape down the bowl with a spatula to ensure everything is mixed, and beat until just combined completely.
7. Fold in the grated carrots and hand stir to combine completely with the mixture. At this stage, if doing so, add in the walnuts and stir to combine.
8. Pour the batter evenly into the cake pan. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Take the cake out of the oven and remove from the pan, turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Making the Cream Cheese Icing:
1. Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter on a medium speed until smooth with no lumps. This should take about a minute.
2. Add in the vanilla extract and salt, and mix until combined.
3. Lower the speed to medium-low and add in the icing sugar gradually. I did this step in cups, ensuring that each cup was fully incorporated before adding the next one. Beat until completely combined on a medium-high speed.
4. Place the cake on a plate for serving. With a cake spatula, layer the cake with icing and slowly spread around the entire cake, ensuring the top and sides are covered completely in a thick layer of icing. Get the walnuts and decorate the cake as desired (I put a couple in the middle and then made a line around the outside)
5. Place in the fridge to ensure the icing is nice and firm, and take out about 10-15 minutes before serving.
Dad was so excited to have his birthday cake; I’m surprised he managed to wait all day. It was hardly a surprise that I was making the cake for him, he could smell the cream cheese icing from a mile away. He even got a few taste tests in before I iced the cake, and I gave him one spatula of icing willingly, and the other, which I was reserving for my partner, he ate as well! He claimed he didn’t realise of course, and didn’t want the icing to go to waste. You can hardly blame him though; the icing on this cake is so delicious! It went so well with the flavours in the carrot cake and I loved the addition of walnuts on the top for just a little bit of crunch!
The cake itself was beautifully moist and full of flavour from the spices. It proves you really don’t need pineapple in the cake to make it good; the flavours of the batter went so well with the carrot you didn’t need the extra flavour! My dad might be on to something here, and hopefully this recipe will add to the small collection of carrot cake recipes on the internet that don’t have pineapple in them. But I think the real hero, as much as the carrot cake was delicious, was the icing. It was so thick and creamy, and just sweet enough to marry perfectly with the cake. I would use the cream cheese icing recipe on its own for other cakes such as red velvet cupcakes, as it really was so simple to make but really delicious.
Dad has been slowly working his way through the cake, taking a piece to work each day. Its like his birthday keeps going for him, and he was so appreciative of the effort I went to for him, even if I loved every second of making him the cake! It has kept really well in the fridge and would easily last a week if you keep it wrapped up tightly. So you can keep enjoying the cake long after the celebration is over! It certainly makes for a delicious morning treat that makes any bad day a little bit brighter.
So if you have someone in your life that is as crazy about carrot cake as my dad is, I would strongly suggest you make this cake for them. It was pretty simple in terms of cake baking, and it was so delicious in the end! You also could just make it for yourself, because I mean it has carrots in it, so it is totally healthy, right? Surely it counts as one of your serves of vegetables for the day!
Until next time, happy baking!