Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Carrot Cake

A little confession time: I never ever liked carrot cake. After knowing today's baking class was about making carrot cake, I was struggling -- Should I just skip the class? Skip another class? I skipped last week's class because it was about donuts -- I don't hate donuts but I honestly can't imagine making half dozen, bringing them home and finishing in 2 days...

I finally decided to go. Yea. Should really give carrot cake a second chance. I've never made any carrot cake before. Maybe with some modifications, I'd love carrot cake better? Also I'd love to learn how to make marzipan carrots. Christmas is coming, I'd love to make some festive cake with marzipan decorations.

Therefore I went to the class, back with a box of carrot cakes that I quite liked. :)

Did I enjoy making carrot cakes? Well. It's not too bad. Will I make carrot cakes again? Definitely!

("What carrot cakes? They're homegrown carrots from my garden!")

Adapted from a recipe used in a baking class held by Tower Hamlet Idea Store.

My Ingredients: (Makes 1 deep 8" round cake OR 1 shallow 8" round plus 4 cupcakes)
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 150g butter
  • 125g muscovado sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • about 265g grated carrots (275g raw before peeling & grating)
  • 1 small ripe bananas
  • 30g walnuts
  • 20g pecans
  • a bit of natural marzipan
  • food colourings (yellow and red)

My Method:
  1. Preheat oven at 170C
  2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda) in a bowl.
  3. Smash the walnuts & peacans by a rolling pin or chop the nuts by a knife. Grate the carrots.
  4. Add muscovado sugar into a mixing bowl. Make sure there is no lump or use fingers to reduce the lumps. Cream the butter with the muscovado sugar until lighter & paler.
  5. Add the well beaten eggs into the butter-sugar mixture in 3 batches, mixing well each time.
  6. Add the dry ingredient mixture into the mixing bowl. Mix well -- it is okay to mix really hard without any fear of over-mixing.

  7. Place the batter in a greased , floured tin and/or cupcake cases. Baking time depends on depth of the tin:
    - All batter in a deep 8" pan: 1 hour
    - Half of the batter in a shallow 8" pan: 45 minutes
    - In cupcake cases (medium ones, not those for muffin nor fairy cakes): 25 minutes

  8. Meanwhile, prepare marzipan carrots. Videos or tutorials can be easily found on Google.
  9. Check the cake is cooked or not by piercing the centre with a clean small knife. It is cooked if it comes out clean. Or press the surface with a finger to see if the cake bounces back.

One-line Verdict:
Without the sickly sweet frosting, this homemade version tastes great!

    • Never a fan of carrot cake. I find it too dense, too moist, too cinnamon-y and too sweet. The original recipe I got from the baking class includes the method to make butter cream topping but I just skipped it. Indeed I love the cake better when it is served alone without any sweet topping. It can be the best carrot cake I have ever had -- not because it's a good bake (I think it wasn't) but because I could and had tailored the cake to perfectly suit my taste!
    • The cake is less dense and a bit airier because of the use of extra leavening agent in self-raising flour. For a more traditional texture (i.e. DENSE, which I don't like), plain flour should be used instead of self-raising flour; levelled (but not heaped) teaspoons of baking agents should be added.

    • Muscovado sugar is moist and lumpy especially when it has been opened for some time. Make sure the sugar is free or almost free of lumps before mixing with butter.
    • The use of pecans and walnuts gives the cake some crunchiness. And the nuts go really well with nutmeg and cinnamon.
    • Marzipan is made of sugar & almond which can be an issue for people with food allergy.
    • Carrots can be replaced by 4 small ripe bananas (so a total of 5) to make a banana cake.
    • Approximate cost of the main ingredients: £4 (can be cheaper if not using nuts especially pecans)

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