Time for Tea: A Cake for Granny

‘Carrot cake and it doesn’t even taste of carrots!’ At least that is what Mr.P announced last week after years of pressure to try the blessed cake he finally braved it only to proclaim the above. The reason we had cake was Granny, Granny loves cake and all sweet things. Granny comes to London,  so as a small thank you for the effort she makes on a regular basis to visit the tiny terrors, otherwise known as the ‘little people’, we always make a cake.

I don’t think you can really count it as one of your 5 a day but does that matter? It does have carrots in it somewhere, also a smattering of walnuts and coconut. I’ll be honest it isn’t my recipe, all credit goes to those very clever chaps at Ottolenghi. This recipe is in their first book, which is a beauty, a collection of scrumptous recipes using some novel ingredient combinations. The baking section is heaven and this recipe is foolproof. Like so many Ottolenghi recipes, and probably recipes in general, it feels complicated and long-winded, but trust me once you’ve made it once, you won’t look back and what’s more, making it gets quicker after the debut outing.

Of course the magic of carrot cake is the cream cheese frosting. I can’t put my finger on it but something about that icing just hits the spot every time. I freestyle it, beating butter with icing sugar and then the cream cheese, sweet and savoury, totally indulgent. As for the cake itself, the use of carrots and oil make it absurdly light and fresh, it keeps like a dream, for a happy 4 days, but I guarantee it won’t last that long! The last 2 occasions we have made it we have halved the Ottolenghi recipe, and this makes a very healthy sized 20cm round cake.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting 

The original recipe is from Ottolenghi – The Cookbook – this one has been reduced in size, halved to be precise, but a few of the quantities have been moderated.

  • 80g plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1 free-range egg yolk
  • 100g sunflower oil or olive oil if that is all you have to hand!
  • 135g caster sugar
  • 50g walnuts, chopped
  • 25g desiccated coconut
  • 80g carrot, grated very finely – ideally on a microplane
  • 1 free-range egg whites
  • a pinch of salt
  • Icing
  • 80g cream cheese,at room temperature
  • 35g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 25g icing sugar

1 Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 3. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.

2 Mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices. Lightly whisk the whole egg with the egg yolk.

3 Put the oil and caster sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the beater attachment and beat for about a minute on a medium speed. On a low speed, slowly add the beaten egg. Mix in the walnuts, coconut and carrot and then the sifted dry ingredients. Don’t over mix.

4 Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Wash and dry the mixer bowl, making sure it is totally clean, then put the egg white and salt in it and whisk on a high speed until firm peaks form. Gently fold the egg white into the carrot mixture, being careful not to over mix.

5 Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 40 minutes; it could take longer or less time depending on your oven. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out dry. Let the cake cool completely and then remove from the tin.

6 Cream the butter and icing sugar together and once thoroughly combined add the cream cheese. I have given the Ottolenghi quantities above but feel brave and freestyle it. Ice the cake when completely cold.

Am quite proud of the sweet peas – they have been flowering now for a happy 3 months!! And still going – clearly the slugs and snails are not fond of the flowering variety as they nailed my real peas!

Notes: Cookbooks well worth investing in.

The Cookbook by Ottolenghi – an all in overview of the deli/cafe empire – delicious.

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi – a vegetarian heaven.

Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sammi Tamimi – only recently published but I can’t wait to get my hands on it – as the name suggests – recipes and flavours from the East.

About lardersaga

Joanna Preston is mother of the 'little people', 1 pink and 1 blue, and wife to saintly Mr.Patience! After a decade dedicated to cooking for others (Alps, Africa and founding 'Sugar & Spice') my attention is now solely in the home kitchen. We are a food obsessed family that adore growing, sourcing and cooking delectable feasts for friends and family!
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1 Response to Time for Tea: A Cake for Granny

  1. Oh I’ve been eyeing this recipe from the Ottolenghi cookbook! I adore carrot cake and I don’t think I’ve met a carrot cake I haven’t liked. Thanks for reminding me of this recipe.

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