Carrot, Walnut Cake with Orange Blossom Honey Cream Cheese
This is an absolute cracker of a carrot cake! It's a total crowd pleaser and it will win anyone over. I used to supply it to a deli in Notting Hill and I couldn't make it fast enough and it would go in a day! It has a light sponge with a depth of flavour full of spices, along with an airy, yet deliciously creamy icing. If you enjoy carrot cake this is a total must and it is gluten-free.
250ml sunflower oil
300g unrefined caster sugar
5 medium free-range eggs (divided into 4 yolks and 4 whites and beat the 5th separately)
255g ground almonds
1.5 tbsp brown rice flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
few gratings of nutmeg
pinch of ground cardamon
pinch of cloves
220g grated carrots (about 3 medium and I use the larger size on a grater)
100g walnuts (80g roughly chopped and 20 for the topping)
For the icing
500g cream cheese at room temperature
150g soft unsalted butter
80g unrefined icing sugar
1 large tbsp blossom honey
1-2 tbsp vanilla
I always start by preparing everything and measuring out all of the ingredients to make things run smoothly.
Turn the oven to 170 degrees and grease and line two 10inch cake tins with baking parchment. Add the sunflower oil and sugar into a large bowl and mix together for a couple of minutes until combined. You can use a handheld whisk or a mixer machine for this. Then in a separate bowl lightly beat together the yolks and half of the whole beaten egg. Slowly whip the yolks in with the sunflower oil and sugar. Add all the ground almonds, rice flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices, 80g of the chopped walnuts into another bowl and mix together. Use a spoon to gradually stir the dry ingredients into the batter followed by the grated carrot. Use a clean, dry bowl to whip up the whites to form stuff peaks and fold them in a third at a time using a spatula into the batter until all is incorporated. Divide the cake batter between the two cake tins and place both, one above the other into the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the sides of the cake have started to come away and the top is light and springy to touch. You can also insert a skewer to check that is comes out clean. The bottom cake might need a little more time than the top. Leave cakes to cool completely before turning them out of tins.
While the cakes are cooking you can begin with the icing. In a mixer use the paddle attachment to carefully mix the soft butter, icing sugar, honey and vanilla and then increase the speed to beat until light and fluffy. This will take about 6 minutes if the butter is soft and longer if it is hard. In a separate bowl beat the room temperature cream cheese and then use a spatula to fold the cream cheese into the fluffy butter cream. It should have a very smooth texture. When the cakes are cooled divide the icing between the cakes and layer one top of the other. I use the back of spoon to create swirls and texture with the icing and I usually have more icing on the top tier. Scatter the leftover walnuts on top and store in a cool dry place. This cake keeps well but should be eaten within 3 days.