The hardest part of any friendship is when it’s time to say goodbye. Didn’t know how to say goodbye to my leaving colleague and every day coffee mate Mr Wen so I set my sights on a carrot cake in his honour. So in a way I should call this recipe Mr Wen’s Carrot Cake ( Mr 文 萝卜糕).
I suspect you’ve all tried carrot cake either in Star Bucks , Caffè Nero or Costa and I can assure you -this is an entirely different beast. It is dense, rich, rustic, walnut-studded, and carrot-flecked. Like many carrot cakes, it’s best slathered generously with cream cheese frosting. The real catch is this – the cake is sweetened with sultanas, raisins and dried orange peel , so I put just a little bit of sugar. For the frosting I whip cream cheese with a splash of vanilla essence, but nothing beyond that either. Imagine a traditional carrot cake colliding with your favorite banana bread, and you’ll have an idea of where this recipe will take you.
Aside from exploring raisins and sultanas as the primary sweeteners in this cake, I tried to keep the rest simple. I kept the spices to a minimum and aside from the walnuts resisted the urge to add any of the other ingredients that commonly show up in carrot cakes – coconut, crushed pineapple, ginger, nutmeg, etc, etc. If you like the cake I’d certainly suggest playing around with different add-ins of your own in future versions.
2 cups plain flour (wholemeal would work)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
3/4 cup walnuts
4 ounces unsalted butter, heated until just melted
1/2 cup sultanas, raisins and dried orange peel
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 medium)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (2% or lowfat is ok)
2 eggs, lightly whisked
75g/ 3 oz cream cheese
50g/ 2 oz softened butter
A few drops of vanilla extract
5-6 tablespoons icing sugar
Preheat oven to 350F/180 C. Butter a 9x5x3 / 8-cup loaf pan (or 8×8 cake pan) and line it with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the walnuts and set aside.
Stir the dried fruits into the melted butter, breaking them up a bit.
In a separate bowl grate the carrots. Stir in the date-butter mixture, breaking up any dried fruit clumps as you go. Whisk in the yogurt and the eggs. Add the flour mixture and stir until everything just comes together.
Spoon into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 50 – 60 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean in the center of the cake – it’ll be less if you are using a standard cake pan.
Remove from oven and let cool.
While the cake is baking whip together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla essence. Taste. If you like your frosting sweeter adjust to your liking.
When the cake has completely cooled frost the top of the cake with an offset spatula/knife/piping bag.
Somebody put the coffee on …