For my friend Rachel's Birthday last week I decided to make the carrot cake from my beloved River Cottage Cakes Handbook (after trying the lemon drizzle cake recipe a few weeks ago I knew I couldn't go wrong). I added a teaspoon of my Spice Mountain beetroot powder which gave it a lovely intense colour and decorated it with fresh edible flowers.
Carrot Cake Recipe:
125g self-raising wholemeal flour
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch sea salt
150g unsalted butter cut into small pieces and softened
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
150g golden caster sugar
75g ground almonds
250g finely grated carrot
75g sultanas or raisins
75g flaked almonds or chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Topping:
100g full fat cream cheese
25g unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces
150g - 175g icing sugar sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract or orange flower water or the finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange or lemon
Preheat the oven to 180c / gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin. Sift together the flour, mixed spices, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and orange zest to a cream using either a wooden spoon or a hand-held electric whisk (or your Kenwood Chef!). Add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tbsp of the flour mix with each and beating thoroughly before adding the next. Using a large metal spoon, fold in the remaining flour mix followed by the ground almonds, grated carrot, dried fruit and nuts.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, smoothing it out evenly with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for 45 - 50 minutes until the cake is evenly coloured and springs back into shape when lightly pressed with a finger. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
To make the topping: Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the icing sugar and any flavouring and beat until the mixture is very light and creamy. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so to firm up before using.
When the cake is cold, slice in half horizontally and sandwich back together using about half of the cream cheese topping. Spread the remaining topping over the top of the cake and garnish with fresh edible flowers (I bought mine in Waitrose!)