What sort of cake do you make for a little sis who’s sparkly, bubbly, funny, beautiful and well-travelled? And slightly mad?!! (JK, sis, JK!)
It had to be bright and bold.
It had to be carrot cake, with deliciously decadent buttercream to fill it. KJB’s favourite.
It needed to incorporate the colours of the world – almost Bollywood colours, colours that make you want to sing, dance and then sing again – camp songs in the garden at midnight!
This cake HAD to be special. I don’t see my sister nearly often enough. She lives abroad and I miss her dearly. She’s in Bulgaria right now, travelling for a couple of weeks, but she made a pit-stop home for a party before she left. Cue the carrot cake.
I have to tell you one thing about my beautiful, amazingly talented, funky-doodle sister (and I’m sure she’ll forgive me!)… Something she’s been known for since she was tiny.
If there’s cake around, she doesn’t wait for a plate and a spoon. Oh no. After all, why did God give us perfectly great scoops on the ends of our arms? If it’s creamy, you KNOW that KJB’ll whip out those sticky fingers and dig in, before a knife to slice has even been considered! There’s been times, she’s just stuck her tongue right in!
That’s what makes her funny!
So we dispensed with the knives and plates and forks.
It was OLD-SKOOL – “Go on KJB, just take a big bite!” So she did. And after that, no-one else bothered to slice it. We just hunted out some communal tablespoons and everyone dug in. Perfect!
Excuse the quality of the next photo, but here we are, taking THE said bite…
I must just emphasise … this was my first attempt at sugar flowers. I need to practice, but I’m improving all the time. Keep on truckin’…
Carrot Cake (One 7″ layer of cake – I made three)
For cupcakes in a gluten free version of this recipe, check out this… Carrot Cake
162g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) light brown sugar
162g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) caster sugar (granulated, US)
226g (2 sticks) butter
4 eggs, room temperature, cracked and beaten gently.
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 small orange
300g (2 + 3/4 cups) self raising flour.
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using lightly salted butter)
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
400g (just under 3 cups) grated carrot
120 g (3/4 cup) golden sultanas
40g (1/4 cup) chopped dates / pineapple / walnuts / apricots (I used dates and apricots in this recipe but walnuts are goooooood!)
200g (1 cup) butter
400g (3 + 1/3 cup) icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1) Preheat your oven to 175 degrees C / 350 degrees F. (Use your oven thermometer!!)
2) Line a cake tin with baking parchment.
3) Beat your butter. Beat it to within an inch of it’s life – scrape your bowl down in between.
4) Add the sugars. BEAT them. I beat for about 10 minutes, scraping down every couple of minutes. Use an electric hand-mixer, a free-standing mixer or even brute strength, if you live with someone from the WWE.
5) Add the eggs in 4 stages. In between, beat the hell out of the mixture to stop the mixture from curdling. Most people say ‘don’t worry if it curdles’, but I’m a convert to the Women’s Institute method of patience and a Led Zeppelin style of “whole-lotta-love” at this stage. If you want airy cakes, trust me on this.
6) Slowly mix in the zest of lemon and orange juice.
7) In a separate bowl, high-sift the flours, baking soda/powder, ginger and cinnamon.
8) Add the dry ingredients to the egg/sugar/butter mixture – fold in by hand.
9) Fold in carrots, nuts, fruit that you are using.
10) Fill your cake tin.
11) Bake for 40 minutes (cake). It will be springy to the touch when done and starting to move away from the sides of the tin. A skinny knife inserted into the centre should come out clean if it’s cooked. I often find in my oven, cakes need longer, so I’ll just keep adding an extra five minutes until it’s starting to come away from the tin.
12) Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a cooling rack.
13) Make your buttercream frosting.
14) Beat the hell out of the butter (if you don’t you will get lumps of butter in your icing). Add the icing sugar and beat, beat, beat. (This blog is SO violent!).
15) I spread buttercream in between each layer of cake and then crumb-coated it. I refrigerated it for 30 minutes, then applied a second coat to achieve nice clean edges. After that, I coloured and rolled my sugarpaste and covered the cake. If you’re not sure how to do this there’s a great tutorial over at Paul Bradford‘s site.
I made the sugar flowers the day before and it took me forever, using various online tutorials that sadly, I forgot to list. So, soon, I will complete a round up of the best flower making tutorials on the web!
Happy Baking! Moo x