This cake has been very popular with my friends, especially friends who have gone overseas and have travelled well. Each time we meet it has always been carrot cake and coffee at various cafes in Singapore for that little tête-à-tête with my lady friends.
Each time the carrot cake has been a great disappointment. Somehow there seems to be a metallic taste to it. I attended a famous chef’s class just to learn to bake this cake, well, it was a disappointment too. It was too dense and the taste was unpleasant. This actually encouraged me to test some carrot cake recipes from Europe and the United States some years ago. I observed that US carrot cakes come with cream cheese icing and are always much sweeter (their cupcakes and the famous red velvet cakes do have cream cheese icing). Whereas the European versions seem to have butter cream or plain glacé icing.
My version has cream cheese as it adds a nice tang to the cake. The cake itself can be eaten on its own as it is wholesome with all the carrots and goodies in it! The magic ingredient seems to be the canned pineapple! You will not taste the pineapple, but it makes the slightly dense cake moist and gives a softer texture which is a pleasure to eat. Everyone who have tried my cake always asks for more and more.
Recently I had a baking class where I taught this cake. My friends in the class gave the thumbs up for this cake. Those who do cake hopping to try cakes told me that this is the best carrot cake that they have eaten. One participant told me that my cake matched her high standards. I was so happy as my experiments in this cake have paid off very well in making others happy and beaming with joy as they were eating the cake. They also found out that my method is very easy to make too. Once you have gathered the ingredients, just separate the wet and the dry ingredients and work from there. I have given measurements in cups to make it easier and you don’t need a cake mixer too. So do bake this cake and I would surely love to hear from you!
1½ cups self raising flour
I tsp mixed spice
I tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup canned pineapple, chopped coarsely
1½ cups grated carrots
¾ cup vegetable oil (soya bean, corn or grapeseed oil)
1 cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup raisins
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup dark brown sugar
For Cream Cheese Icing
250 gms cream cheese
100 gms butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 170C.
Prepare loaf tins with baking paper.
Sieve flour with bicarbonate of soda, salt, mixed spice and cinnamon powder together in a bowl.. Add the dark brown sugar, stir to mix and keep aside.
In another bowl, beat oil and eggs, add in the vanilla extract, stir well. Add in the pineapple, carrots, walnuts and raisins. Mix well to combine.
Fold in flour in 3 batches and combine well but do not overmix.
Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared loaf tins. Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour. (This depends on the size of the loaf pans – small pans need lesser time
Test with a skewer and if it comes out clean, cake is done. Remove the pans from the oven – let it cool for 5 to 10 mins.
Remove the cakes from the pan and place on a rack to cool completely.
Spread the cream cheese icing on top of the cake, slice and serve.
For Cream Cheese Icing:
Use a hand mixer and beat softened cream cheese.
Add softened butter and vanilla extract till smooth. This takes only about 1 minute or less.
Add icing sugar in batches and continue to mix well till a nice consistency is formed.
Use as required.
You can use plain or all purpose flour but add in 1 tsp of baking powder.
You can add or reduce ingredients such as carrots, raisins, walnuts and pineapple as long as you can get a total of 4 cups for this cake.
You may omit raisins completely or you may replace with other dried fruits that you prefer such as cranberry, currants, etc.
This cake, on its own, freezes very well. You may ice it with an icing of your choice when you are ready to serve. This cake can be served as a breakfast or as a afternoon tea cake.
You may bake in muffin pans to make as carrot cupcakes. Only make sure that the baking time is much lesser!