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Tuesday 11 June 2013

Baking for Beginners: Carrot and Orange Cake

There is nothing finer than a slice of moist, light carrot cake with a cup of tea in the afternoon. You can even kid yourself it's healthy, if you ignore all the sugar and icing. But I wanted something a bit lighter and fresher for summer. And so this carrot and orange combination was born, inspired by two things:

1) our summer citrus Just Desserts theme - there's still time to get your recipes in!

2) a carrot and orange juice drink I accidentally bought, which I assumed would be horrendous but was actually lush - refreshing, summery and a beautiful bright colour.

Cinnamon is a traditional carrot cake spice, while the ginger adds an extra kick to the flavour. I've kept the topping simple with orange-flavoured icing, but you could add cream cheese or buttercream if you like. But this cakes works best if you don't add too much to it, I think. It's delicious just on its own.

Carrot and orange cake
You will need:
  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 120g carrots, grated (about 4 medium carrots)
  • Zest of two oranges
  • Juice of one orange
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
For the icing
  • Juice of one orange
  • 200g icing sugar
Make it!
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease two 18cm/7" baking tins. Don't worry if you don't have two - if you're just making one cake, cook it for longer.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs. Stir in the grated carrot (using a wooden spoon if you've been using an electric mixer, you don't want to mush the carrot into a paste).
  3. Add the orange zest and juice. I'm not going to lie - it won't look pretty at this stage. At best, it'll look like coleslaw. At worst, it'll start to curdle. IT DOESN'T MATTER. Just press on. The finished result will be lovely, I promise.
  4. Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices and sift them into the bowl. Gently fold it together until the flour is well mixed through. There, that looks better, doesn't it?
  5. Divide between the two baking tins and pop in the oven for 25-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into one comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins.
  6. While you're waiting, make the icing by sifting the icing sugar into a bowl and gradually adding the orange juice to make a thin paste. When the cakes are cool, top one with the icing and place the other on top. Drizzle the remaining icing over the top, then slice and serve.

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