Time for another bake. I do love carrot cake (I think it’s because I always think it’s ‘healthy’, although I’m pretty sure that it’s no healthier than any other bake). This time it was a traybake though and not a ‘cake’ as such.
The oven was put on to preheat at 160°C and my traybake tin (30 x 23cm/12″ x 9″) was removed from the cupboard and lightly greased and the base lined with parchment.
Reading through the recipe this was an all in one method again, so it shouldn’t take too long. I decided to mix it by hand rather than use my electric whisk as being a carrot cake there would be no butter to cream!
A large bowl was taken down from the shelf (me on tiptoes – I don’t know why I’ve put all my bowls up on that particular shelf, I struggle every time I have to get one) and the first thing was to put all the dry ingredients into it. First in was 275g self-raising flour (I’ve 3 bags of self-raising flour at the moment – I went shopping the other day for plain flour and for some reason came back with 2 bags of self-raising flour instead, oh well just have to bake a lot more!). The next ingredient was 350g caster sugar, together with 2 level tsp baking powder, 3 level tsp cinnamon and 2 level tsp ginger. This is where the twist comes in, this traybake has mixed nuts added to it, Mary suggests rather than buying a mixed bag of chopped nuts (as there may be a high proportion of peanuts) make your own by mixing together shelled nuts. In my cupboard I had hazelnuts, walnuts and brazils, so 75g in total of the three types (25g of each) were weighed out, chopped up and added to the other ingredients already in the bowl. These were all given a quick stir to mix them together.
It was then on to the ‘wet’ ingredients. 300ml sunflower oil was required, I thought I would have enough, but when I measured it out, I only had 200ml and by now the corner shop had shut and I didn’t fancy walking into town just for some oil, so instead I topped the oil up with milk (this didn’t actually make any difference to the final cake). The oil was poured on top of the dry ingredients and stirred in. Next in went 275g grated carrots. This always confuses me in recipes when they state ‘275g of grated carrots’ – do they mean the total grated weight or the total weight of the carrots before they are topped and tailed and peeled? I actually took three quite large carrots and once grated they amazingly weighed just slightly over 275g. These were added to the bowl and stirred in, by now the mixture was quite thick and stiff. Next in went the 4 eggs – one at a time and the mixture beaten between each addition. Lastly in went 1 tsp of vanilla extract. By now the mixture was a thick batter.
The batter was poured into the prepared tin and although Mary says to level the surface, there was no need. Into the oven it went for 50-60 minutes. In total I left the traybake in for 60 minutes as it was still a little squidgy on the top after 50 minutes. It had certainly risen! Once out of the oven it was cooled in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack and removing the baking parchment. It was left to cool. You could certainly smell the cinnamon in the cake!
Once the cake had cooled it was on with the topping. For this I mixed 400g full fall soft cheese with 4tsp of clear honey and 2 tsp lemon juice. This was mixed together until it was spreading consistency. Spoonfuls of the mixture were placed on top of the traybake and spread over the top with a palette knife. The finishing touch was a sprinkling of chopped nuts.
It was then cut into 21 pieces, which seems a lot but the pieces were still quite big and with the creamy topping were probably just the right size. Tastewise it was lovely, as expected and I was pleased to say that I actually liked the topping. I’m not a fan of soft cheese nor honey, so I was a bit dubious as to whether I’d like it or not. You couldn’t really taste the honey and it made the soft cheese slightly sweet, but there was also a bit of a tang from the lemon juice.
Was it a hit with the family – it was with my husband and myself, but the children weren’t too keen on the topping. Will it be one to add to the ‘bake again’ list – I think so!