Baking, Cakes, Icing

My favourite Carrot Cake

Well January whizzed by in a flash! Hotter than normal humid days, barbeques, potjies of delicious meat stews, restaurants, great friends, lazy thrown-together meals on the deck in the evening heat, cool afternoon swims, road trips – and the cicadas finally arrived to sing their buzzy tunes – all in all not much wrong with a perfectly beautiful Summer so far.

My favourite carrot cake

Except that our guest and friend leaves this week after spending two very enjoyable months with us and school starts again on Wednesday, with all it’s routines, after-school activities, packed lunches and traffic congestion. So normality and daily life returns. Aren’t the “seasons of life” wonderful? Predictable, if you’re lucky enough to be alive and healthy enough to enjoy them, but I want to keep this holiday feeling going as long as possible. I hear a few cynics saying “ha ha, I’ll give her 3 days…” and you’re probably right but I’m going to try to hold on to my “intention”. Anyone who follows Esther (Abraham) and Dr Wayne Dyer’s wise words will know what I’m talking about.

I can honestly say I haven’t been careful with what I’ve eaten this Summer in terms of making healthier choices and restricting treats. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve wanted when I’ve wanted it; and although that probably sounds like I’ve been a bit piggish, it’s been great. Cakes, tarts, chocolates galore, chips, dips, cheeses and relishes, even a few fizzy drinks thrown in for good measure – I’ve enjoyed them all! Liberating in a way, but I can feel my waistband is much tighter and there are a few items of clothing I won’t even attempt to put on. But no matter, I’ve thrown caution to the wind, had a fantastically enjoyable foodie experience and I promised myself that come February, I would start making healthy choices again, exercise again (what’s that??) and break off my love affair with chocolate and treats…for a while at least.

But before I do that, I wanted to share this cake recipe with you. It’s my all time favourite carrot cake recipe. Historically I never enjoyed carrot cake, and by that I really mean never! I steered away from it whenever possible as whenever I dared to try it, it was always disappointingly dry and tasteless. Until I came across this recipe about 10 years ago and I instantly adopted it as my own. I think I copied it from a food magazine way back when and no longer have the original, but the secret ingredient is Pineapple. Crushed, tinned pineapple. Adds moisture, flavour and makes the cake sing…to me anyway. I’ve had a few requests for the recipe whenever I’ve made it and donated one to my husband’s work where it was auctioned for $50!! Hope they enjoyed it.

Butter is replaced with oil, so it is a moist cake which stays fresh for days, but this one tends to disappear very quickly. The cream cheese icing and chopped apricots and nuts on the top adds a zingy colourful freshness and crunch.

There is also no fiddling with creaming of butter, sugar, eggs, etc. You simply add all wet ingredients together in a bowl, sift in the dry ingredients and pour the mixture into a pan. Now who can’t do that? Nice and simple.

ingredients:
350 g pineapple pieces, well drained
200 g grated carrot (about 2 medium sized carrots)
½ cup walnut pieces
1¼ cups sugar
150 ml oil (not a strong oil)
3 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1½ tsp baking powder
200 g plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt

For the icing:
50 g butter
200 g cream cheese, softened
½ tsp vanilla essence
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
½ cup each: chopped walnuts, chopped dried apricots and pumpkin seeds

  1. Preheat your oven to 160° and lightly grease and line a 23 cm cake pan.
  2. Mix the pineapple, carrots and nuts together in a large bowl. Add the sifted ingredients (or sift them directly into this bowl). Stir to combine and pour into the pan.
  3. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until cooked through but not dry. Remove from the oven and let it stand in the tin on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before inverting and removing from the tin. Allow to cool fully before icing.
  4. For the icing, combine the butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla essence and icing sugar and beat again until smooth.
  5. Spread liberally onto the top of the cake and garnish with the chopped nuts, dried apricots and pumpkin seeds.

Enjoy!

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