6 oz (175 g) dark brown soft sugar, sifted
2 large eggs at room temperature
4 fl oz (120 ml) sunflower oil
7 oz (200 g) wholemeal self-raising flour (or the same amount of plain flour plus 1 tsp baing powder)
1½ level teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
3 rounded teaspoons mixed spice
grated zest 1 orange
7 oz (200 g) carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
6 oz (175 g) sultanas
For the topping:
9 oz (250 g) Quark (skimmed-milk soft cheese)
¾ oz (20 g) caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus a little extra for dusting
For the syrup glaze:
juice ½ small orange
1 dessertspoon lemon juice
1½ oz (40 g) dark brown soft sugar
a 23cm square tin, lined with baking parchment
Begin by whisking the 6 oz (175 g) sugar, eggs and oil together in a bowl using an electric hand whisk for 2-3 minutes.
Then sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the mixed spice into the bowl, tipping in all the bits of bran that are left in the sieve. Now stir all this together, then fold in the orange zest, carrots and sultanas. After that pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until it is well risen and feels firm and springy to the touch when lightly pressed in the centre.
While the cake is cooking, make the topping by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl until light and fluffy, then cover with clingfilm and chill for 1-2 hours or until needed. Now you need to make the syrup glaze, and to do this whisk together the fruit juices and sugar in a bowl.
Then, when the cake comes out of the oven, stab it all over with a skewer and quickly spoon the syrup over as evenly as possible. Now leave the cake on one side to cool in the tin, during which time the syrup will be absorbed. Then, when the cake is completely cold, remove it from the tin, spread the topping over, cut it into 12 squares and dust with a little more cinnamon.
I have never made carrot cake before today. here's a confession. So why today, you ask? Well, tomorrow there is a fundraiser for the local school, the muddy fun run which is organised by a friend. She does a great job and has raised a lot of money for the school PTA over the years. The point being that she provides cakes and drinks to the runners after the event - and so needs lots of cake. Routinely, I would (or rather the Offspring would) make a Brownie for such an event. the Brownie recipe was from the Late Wife and is excellent and dependable (I must post it here as we make it all the time). But we fancied a change, and also the Youngest needed to do something different for her "Empty Box" homework. The Removed Cousin makes a wicked carrot cake, so I thought we would try and replicate it. Rather than trouble her for the recipe, we searched the web and came up with the one below, which is a Delia.
Every Fool Know that Delia is reliable, so we decided to try it, topping and all. I say that because I find the ubiquitous topping that slathers many a carrot cake to be a bit of a dificult thing. Often it is over-sweetened and cloying and actually detracts from the cake for me. But I went ahead with this version as the topping did not have too much added sugar although I am still on the fence about the need for cheese on top of a cake. I will try it without next time.
Incidentally the basic cake here is pretty good. Wholemeal flour, carrots and sultanas mean there is a reasonable amount of fibre to the cake (it is filling so you eat smaller pieces) and not over-sweetened. And the mixed spice and orange zest make the kitchen smell of Christmas which is an added bonus. The recipe was simple enough for the Youngest to make it and came out well. Incidentally, it specifies self-raising wholemeal flour (which I didn't have) so I used plain (bread) wholemeal and added a teaspoon of baking powder. Secondly, Delia has this syrup glaze which she adds onto the cake. I cant taste it in the finished item, so feel free to skip this step if you want.
We will see if it all goes when its on the table against all the other treats at the fun-run but based on the trimmings, it is tasty, spiced and warming.