The loveliest carrot cake in the world

I have no idea what got into me. I completely forgot to post about my early April birthday cake, baked for me with love (or obligation) by my sister. Thank goodness I’m getting around to sharing it now because, oh, what a cake it was.

This is one of my favourite cakes. I’d say it’s top three material. Some days, it’s top one. It’s a dense, moist, pure carrot cake, unsullied by raisins and pineapple and coconut and whatever else people tend to put in carrot cakes. The recipe comes from Breakfast, Lunch, Tea, the cookbook of Rose Bakery, which I’ve blogged about before. This is the cake that put Rose Bakery on the map. As you can imagine, Parisians don’t generally go in for vegetable-based desserts, but once they were convinced to try this odd carroty concoction, they couldn’t get enough of it. And I can’t either. And neither will you.

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For an earlier birthday of mine Edward had made these as cupcakes, which were terribly sweet and terribly cute and terribly yummy. But it’s nice to make this as a big old festive layer cake, too. One thing Ele did that I really liked was to grind the walnuts to quite a fine consistency, which distributed their flavour throughout the cake and added a really lovely finish to the flavour.

This cake feeds a crowd, so I brought the leftovers into work the next day. And something unprecented happened. My boss went back for seconds. While exclaiming over it. He never goes back for seconds. He never exclaims over baked goods. That’s how good this cake is.

In fact, I think I’ve reevaluated my earlier position. Forget top three. This just might be my very favourite cake in the whole wide world.

Rose Bakery Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
From Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Carrarini

Serves 8-12. You can also bake this cake as 12 cupcakes or in two 8-inch pans, to make two thinner layers for a layer cake.

4 eggs
225 g (1 cup) white sugar
300 ml (1 1/4 cups) vegetable oil
5 medium or 9 small carrots, finely grated
300 g (2 cups) plain or all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 rounded tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda or baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
150 g (1 1/2 cups) finely chopped or ground walnuts

125 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
250 g (1 cup) cream cheese
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
50-75 g (1/2 – 3/4 cup) icing sugar (depending on how sweet you like your icing)

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350F / 176C. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan (preferably springform) and line the bottom with parchment or baking paper. Grease the top of the parchment, too.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and oil together until pale and fluffy. Mix in the grated carrots.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. While mixing on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the carrot mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in the walnuts.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake around 45 minutes, until the middle is set and a knife inserted comes out clean (cooking times for other pan sizes will vary, so keep an eye on the oven!). Cool completely in the pan before unmoulding the cake.

For the frosting: Meanwhile, with the mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and cream cheese together until combined. Add the vanilla extract. Sift in as much icing sugar as it takes to reach your desired sweetness and consistency. Ice the cake once it is completely cool.