Carrot cake is one of my favourite cakes to make. It’s different to most other cakes where the main ingredients are usually milk, eggs, and flour and a dabble of something else. In this cake, the texture from the carrots and nuts mixed with the flour and eggs reminds me of when I used to make cakes mixtures from saw dust and water and handwrite invitations to my parents to come down to the garden to try them. Those days are long gone so instead i make grown up versions with edible ingredients…the baking time is a little longer but the result is always better.
As soon as I’ve combined all the ingredients the smells from the different spices make me want to leave a carrot cake constantly sitting on the table just for the smell. I’ve played around with this recipe for some time now and I feel that this is the way it should be…. it’s light and zesty with a good crunch from the nuts and carrots, then topped off with a creamy smooth topping. Most recipes have raisins added to it, but I hate raisins so I’ve substituted it with more nuts and carrots etc.
So I hope you enjoy making it as much as I do.
We invited some friends round to Nijmegen for Queensday, so I thought it was be fitting to make some carrot cake for this orange day.
Koninginnedag or Queens day for those who can’t pronounce this word is a national holiday in the Kingdom of the Netherlands to celebrate the Queens birthday on the 30th of April every year. Although it’s not really the queens birthday at all it’s actually her mothers birthday but they just decided to leave it the way it was for some reason. It’s a national holiday so there’s many things going on around the country in the different cities. It’s a day for mostly partying but also a day for vrijmarkt (“free market”), where the Dutch are allowed to sell all their second hand stuff without being taxed. This was one of the aspects i was most looking forward to but instead it was quite let down. I expected to find lots of different treasures but instead walked past stalls and stalls of dirty teddys, puzzles and some really naff clothes.
It all seems to me to be very similar to St.Patrick’s day although different in it’s details. Also, it’s a day where you see a lot of Orange. Orange is the national of the Netherlands, so on the 30th of April everybody wears it with pride in some way. From students wearing bright orange tuxedos to old grannies having painted orange faces and wigs. This year was my first Queensday which is quite relaxed in Nijmegen compared to the bigger cities so next year I’m going hardcore and heading to the Capital to catch up on my Orange.
200g of chopped walnuts
285g of plain flour
330g of Demerara sugar
Zest of 1 orange
2 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
1 tsp of ground ginger
1/2 tsp of ground mixed spice
1/4 tsp of salt
3 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup of sunflower oil
1/2 cup of blended orange
2 tsp of good vanilla extract
1 package of cream cheese (approx 225g)
4 tbsp of icing sugar
1 tbsp of vanilla essence
Preheat the oven to 180º and move on to coating a baking tin (preferably 13? x 9?)
Dry ingredients: Put the walnuts into a big mixing bowl with 1/4 cup of the flour and stir just to coat them. Add the Demerara sugar, orange zest, the rest of the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice and salt. Mix well.
Wet ingredients: For the blended orange simply scoop out all of the orange into a blender and add the oil, pour mixture into a bowl with the grated carrots, eggs and vanilla extract until they just come together.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Mix until everything is incorporated, but don’t over mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for about 50 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean and the cake shrinks from the side of the tin.
Take the cake out of the oven and leave it in the tin to cool completely.
Remove from the tin and cool completely, cover fully with icing and decorate with walnuts
To make cream cheese icing: Put all ingredients into a small bowl and mix until they all come together, add extra sugar to taste if necessary.