Making this carrot cake for a colleague’s afternoon tea, I got to thinking about office-life. The good, the bad and if not the ugly, then the tedious. Sure, work can be annoying: from the shrill alarm call on a Monday morning after a brazen booze-fest on Sunday night, dealing with the David Brentoids that populate every company on earth, to the indignity of sharing bathrooms with your colleagues and all of the ensuing toilet-tension, but I maintain a fond spot for the world of work. The snatches of gossip whilst the kettle boils, the frisson of excitement that jolts through the office when the new girl/boy turns out to be a fitty, the shared exasperation at the Everest of emails crammed into your outlook after a week’s holiday. And my favourite moment – when a colleague, nay a saint, a hero – whips out the biscuits and chocolates they bought on holiday, or the leftover cake from their weekend’s baking, for everyone to share. The sheer, unadulterated thrill of the office sugar-rush is pretty hard to beat.
This cake is fairly decadent, but being filled with carrot and nuts, you can almost kid yourself that it is, vaguely, maybe, sort-of healthy. It takes a couple of hours to make but feeds at least twelve greedy people and looks very -OOH, WOW! – with all of it’s smooth, creamy folds of frosting.
*300g plain flour *2 tsp cinnamon *1 tsp baking powder *1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda *200g soft brown sugar *4 eggs *250ml oil *1 orange zested *1 lemon zested *200g carrots, finely grated *150g walnuts, chopped and for the cream cheese topping: *125g unsalted butter at room temp *50g icing sugar *250g cream cheese (I used full fat Philadelphia)
1. Heat the oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2.
2. Line or grease a really deep tin – I used a square one but bear in mind, that if it is deep rather than large and shallow, that it may take longer to bake.
3. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together and stir in the sugar.
4. Beat the eggs with the oil and citrus zests. Stir in the carrots and fold everything into the flour mixture. Fold in the walnuts.
5. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. My cake took at least another twenty minutes, so just keep your eyes peeled.
6. Cool the cake thoroughly on a wire-rack.
7. For the frosting, beat the butter and icing sugar together until soft and then beat in the cream cheese.
8. Chill the mixture until it’s thick but spreadable. Spread a thick layer on top of the cake, making sure the side of the icing is flat and continues upwards from the side of the cake.
You may wish to add currants to your cake and I think I would probably add even more carrots next time but whatever you like. I sprinkled some ground ginger on top of the frosting to give it a bit of a zing but you could do whatever you liked. I was sorely tempted to fashion the whole cake into a giant carrot, maybe next time. As ever, this recipe was on the indomitable Good Food website.