I LOVE a good excuse to make a birthday cake and, even better, this one was a very special birthday cake. An 80th birthday cake for a stout Sunderland AFC supporter…
You’d NEVER know it.
So, we decided to make him a cake reflecting his unyielding support over eighty years!
The cake itself was a rum soaked carrot cake. It was incredibly moist and possibly could have done with another couple of days before icing but time was short and of the essence. The recipe I adapted was from PastryPal and is by far the best carrot cake I have ever made. I omit the bicarbonate of soda though, and halve the baking powder, using self-raising flour rather than plain. I know lots of bakers hate self-raising but I prefer it – a lot of people dislike the strange aftertaste you get when using bicarb so self-raising cuts this out. I then use half the stated amount of baking powder.
This was before I added the whites to his eyes! I must dig out the light tent again – since the move, I can’t find it! Anyhoo…
Here’s the recipe for two 8 inch sandwich tins:
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.
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda (if using)
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 walnuts)
Couple of spoonfuls rum
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. Put your sultanas in the bowl and soak in rum for about an hour – longer if you can.
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 tins.
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. I also take a thermometer reading – aiming for 97 degrees C.
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.