What a start to October - after September's abominable baking record (mitigating circumstances aside) it's good to be whisking and folding again. The first day of this new month was inaugurated with a carrot cake, but not a mundane carrot cake - this is a recipe my Mother gave me. Which she was given at a supermarket promotion. For Philadelphia cream cheese. So we call this Philadelphia carrot cake! I promise there's no link with the makers of this most processed of cream cheese, but the weird thing is this: the icing never quite tastes the same with ersatz cream cheese (think fromage frais, quark or even the perennially fashionable creme fraiche) - the texture and flavour are best when made with this old American favourite...but it was given to my Mother while we lived in Norway, and here's the catch: all the ingredients are measured in decilitres, not the more common grams. So get a measuring jug out and make this cake - it's lighter and less stringy than traditional carrot cakes, with a good hit of cinnamon and lots of yummy carrot.
- 5 dl self-raising flour
- 3 dl caster sugar
- 1 dl melted butter
- 4 eggs
- 6 dl grated carrot
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- you can also add raisins/walnuts, but I didn't.
- Philadelphia cream cheese (no cheating with the low-fat version!!)
- 125g softened butter
- a small handful of icing sugar (do this according to taste, I don't like it too sweet)
- generous splash of vanilla extract - but not the whole bottle
First, lightly oil a long, rectangular baking pan. Preheat oven to 180ºC
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until light and mousse-like (ca. 8-10 mins)
In a separate bowl, sieve all your dry ingredients except the grated carrot.
When the eggs are light and fluffy, add your flour, give it a few folds with a large metal spoon, then add the carrot and butter. Fold through with the spoon, careful not to overdo it though as this will knock all the air out...
Once the mix looks even, plop it in the baking pan and place on the middle shelf of the oven for 35-40 minutes.
The icing? Easy - just place the butter in a mixing bowl, whisk up so it looks soft and creamy, then add your cream cheese in 3-4 increments. Finally add the sugar and vanilla and whisk again...this can also be used on other cakes such as banana cake or (controversially) chocolate cake. I reckon carrot cake is still king...