Carrot, pineapple and orange cake

Carrot, pineapple and orange cake

I’m into baking with vegetables in a big way at the minute, so when I was flicking through Peggy Porschen’s Boutique Baking the ‘scrumptious carrot cake’ immediately caught my eye.

It’s actually somewhere in between a traditional carrot cake and a hummingbird cake, as it has the addition of crushed pineapple in the sponge.

Given that I LOVED the hummingbird cake I made ages ago for a Clandestine Cake Club, I figured a hummingbird-carrot cake hybrid could only be a good thing, and switching the suggest buttercream and sugarpaste for an orange cream cheese frosting was quite literally the icing on the cake.

All the flavours work together perfectly, with nothing too overpowering. The deliciously sticky sponge is dense without being heavy, and the icing is just sweet enough sandwiched between the layers – I think if I’d covered the whole cake in icing it might have been too much, but I hear naked cakes are all the rage at the minute anyway…

If someone specifically wanted me to make them a carrot cake I think I’d still go with the traditional version, but this is a great way to change it up a bit and try something different so I would definitely recommend giving it a go!

Carrot, pineapple and orange cake (adapted from Peggy Porschen’s Boutique Baking)

  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 5 tbsp (75ml) vegetable oil
  • 75g natural yoghurt
  • 1.5 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 320g carrots, grated
  • 1 tin pineapple chunks, drained and crushed (220g)
  • 40g pecan nuts, chopped
  • 290g plain flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the icing:

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 250g icing sugar

Beat together the sugar, vegetable oil and yoghurt until well combined, then add the eggs one a a time, followed by the vanilla. Fold in the grated carrots, crushed pineapple and chopped pecans, then finally sift together all of the remaining dry ingredients and fold these into the mix too. Divide the cake batter between three 6″ round cake tins and bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 30-40 minutes, or until springy to the touch and starting to pull away from the sides of the tins.

While the cakes are cooking, make the icing. Beat the butter to soften, then add the orange zest and the icing sugar, a little at a time. If it won’t come together, add 25g of the cream cheese and beat again. Once the butter and sugar has been creamed, add he cream cheese and beat on a high speed for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy, then chill in the fridge for an hour or so.

Assemble the cake by levelling the tops of the cakes if they’ve domed, then by layering sponge and frosting. Slice and serve!

Advertisements

Almost healthy carrot cake

Almost healthy carrot cake

Carrot cake is definitely one of my favourite cakes (despite not being able to comprehend why anyone could like it up until the age of about 20).

Moist yet light in texture, richly flavoured with a subtle blend of spices and a little sweetness coming through from the carrot, studded with either deliciously sweet bursts of dried fruit or the crunch of nuts, and finished with my favourite topping, cream cheese icing – what’s not to like?

Well, unfortunately there is one thing – the calorie and fat content. Healthy it may sound, but traditional carrot cake recipes have equal amounts of sugar and oil which kind of balance out any goodness coming from the carrots, and cream cheese icing just can’t be done low-cal.

My go-to carrot cake recipe is great, but I wanted to have a go at making a lightened up version that wouldn’t contain half a day’s calories in a single slice. I was also inspired by the arrival of my Riverford veg box, which was a lovely follow on from the lunch at Riverford Field Kitchen I attended a few weeks ago.

Usually costing £12.95 for what they call a small box of all organic, seasonal produce, I thought it was great value. Mine contained a cauliflower, two broccolis, a punned of chestnut mushrooms, a giant butternut squash, about 8 onions, a sack of potatoes – and lots of carrots.

So how did I lighten up my carrot cake? Well to start with, I used the classic Jedi mind trick of changing the shape of the cake from a two-tiered round to a one-layer square, meaning you can cut yourself a bigger slice, without actually eating as much. I made 2/3 the amount of cake, but cut it into the same number of pieces – obvious, right?

I then switched the vegetable oil, which would have been 1,800 calories, for a combination of low-fat creme fraiche, semi-skimmed milk and melted light butter spread, which came in at just 425 calories.

Instead of full fat cream cheese icing, I made a lemon flavoured whipped white chocolate ganache, made with more low fat creme fraiche – perfectly rich and creamy with a bit of a tang, but almost half the calories (790) of the original (1,500).

Using an 8×8″ tin and cutting it into 12 bars, each slice of cake had 255 calories. The original version, cut into 12 slices, would have been 635 calories, so it’s safe to say that this recipe is quite a bit of an improvement, and it lost nothing in taste or texture.

I quite often try to lighten up recipes where I can (although sometimes pure indulgence is the only thing that will do) – does anyone else have any top tips? Let me know!

Lighter carrot cake (adapted from here, original recipe from Breakfast by the Sea)

  • 200g carrots, grated
  • 200g light brown sugar
  • 75g light butter spread (I used Clover Light), melted
  • 75g low fat creme fraiche (I used Weightwatchers)
  • 50ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 40g sultanas

For the icing

  • 100g white chocolate
  • 50g low fat creme fraiche
  • 50g lemon curd

Whisk the sugar, melted butter, creme fraiche, milk eggs and vanilla together in a large mixing bowl, then stir in the grated carrots. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and spices, then fold into the mixture. Finally, stir in the sultanas and pour into an 8×8″ square greased and lined baking tin. Bake at 170 degrees for 45 minutes – 1 hour, checking to make sure it’s risen, springy to the touch and a skewer comes out clean.

To make the icing, finely chop the chocolate and place in a small heatproof bowl. Heat the creme fraiche in a saucepan until almost boiling, then pour it over the white chocolate (don’t worry if the creme fraiche splits, it will come back together again later) and stir until the chocolate has completely melted.

Place the small bowl inside a larger bowl, half filled with cold water, being careful not to get any water into the chocolate. Using an electric whisk, whisk the mixture until it starts to cool and whips up into medium peaks. Fold in the lemon curd, then either spread on top of the cake straight away or chill in the fridge if you want it a little bit thicker.

Cut into bars and serve, guilt free!

Carrot cake (GF)

Carrot cake has been on my to-bake list for quite a long time, but I think what’s put me off making it until now is the absolutely insane amount of recipes and variations there  are for it – how on earth are you meant to know what’s right?!

Eventually, I decided I couldn’t put it off any longer, and picked this recipe to base mine on.

I left out the nuts as the pony isn’t really a fan, used gluten free flour and a little extra liquid, baked it in two tins as I didn’t have one with high enough sides to fit it all in and used a different icing (so as per usual, not doing a brilliant job of following the recipe…)

I’m still not really sure what a definitive carrot cake should be, but this one was pretty damn delicious, and I think of all the cakes I’ve taken in to work this one disappeared the fastest!

I wouldn’t hesitate to make it again – maybe with walnuts of pecans if I can sneak them past the pony, and maybe a plain cream cheese icing so my orange-alergic next door neighbour can try a slice too…

For any other carrot cake virgins out there, trust me – this recipe is the place to start!

Carrot cake with orange cream cheese icing (recipe adapted from Breakfast By The Sea)

  • 300g sugar
  • 300ml sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 300g carrots, finely grated
  • 300g plain flour (GF or normal)
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp baking powder (check to make sure it’s GF)
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg,
  • pinch of salt
  • handful of sultanas (I didn’t bother weighing)

For the icing:

  • 100g butter
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 350g icing sugar
  • zest of an orange

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, eggs, milk and vanilla until well mixed and no lumps remain, then mix in the grated carrots. Sift in all the remaining dry ingredients, and fold in with the sultanas until there are no more streaks of flour. Pour into 2 greased and lined 8″ cake tins (it will be very liquid, that’s ok) and bake at 170 degrees for about an hour, or until risen, browned, and pulling away from the sides.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Beat the butter to soften, then add in half the cream cheese, orange zest and the icing sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until no lumps remain, which will take a few minutes. Finally, quickly beat in the rest of the cream cheese, then leave in the fridge to chill. Note – this made way too much icing, so in future I’d probably make 2/3 this amount.

Level the cakes if necessary, then spread half the icing on top of one layer of the cake. Top with the second cake, the spread the rest of the icing on top. Cut into slices and serve!