Carrot cake with maple mascarpone icing

I know you won’t find it hard to believe me when I say it’s a very rare occasion for the cake stand resting on my kitchen counter to be empty, it is always filled with some sort of sweet sugary delight; chocolate chip cookies, almond studded biscotti, a simple lemon yoghurt cake, coconut macaroons, some kind of ‘in case of emergency’ sugar fix is always there.  But alas this morning as I stumbled towards the coffee machine searching for my morning wakeup call I witnessed a very eerie site.  The cake stand was empty.  And I mean empty.  Crumbs do not count.  I felt unnerved to say the least.  For me, a home doesn’t feel quite right without a sweet/cake/brownie/muffin on the kitchen bench.  I mean it’s now simply a house and no longer a home.  This matter must be rectified immediately. 

Considering that Rob and I are hoovering down sweets at the speed of light these days, (this is the only explanation I can offer as to explain why I had not noticed dwindling cake numbers sooner) I figure I need to bake a cake with substance...something that will go the distance and by that I mean lasting at least 3 days in this house.  I considered baking a blueberry and lemon yoghurt loaf cake but the cake is so light and lemony I know that Rob and I will have it demolished in no time...no I need a cake that is a little richer, with a little warming spice to it and an icing sweet and thick enough to slow us down. And the only cake that fits these criteria so well, in my mind is Carrot cake!  Perfect. 

Carrot cake is such a classic and for good reason, all of that grated carrot strewn through the crumb ensures the cake remains soft, tender and oh so moist.  And with the addition of crunchy, hearty walnuts and a spice mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger it really is a cake with substance.  The traditional icing for carrot cake always stars cream cheese as the chief ingredient and my carrot cake was no exception, however my current obsession with mascarpone left me with no other choice but to add that to the mix too.  Jamie’s icing went down the tropical road by adding lime juice to the mix and although I could see the genius in his idea I knew that the zesty lime would lighten the cake and would only encourage Rob and me to consume the cake even faster than usual...to combat this I decided to take the maple route.  And wow, what a combination of flavours...the maple syrup not only balances the tartness provided by the cream cheese and mascarpone but it marries so beautiful with the warming nature of the spices and walnuts in the cake.  It tastes so festive.  It is also very rich, requiring small ‘sensible’ slices (if that’s possible) which has left me feeling quite confident that this cake will live to see the early days of next week..we’ll see.  Enjoy K xxx

Carrot cake with maple mascarpone icing
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s carrot cake recipe
250g unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups light brown soft sugar
5 large eggs, preferably free-range or organic, separated
zest 1 orange
2 tablespoons cointreau
1 1/4 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 slightly heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 cup ground almonds
100g shelled walnuts, chopped, plus a handful for serving
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch of ground cloves
a pinch of ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
250g carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
sea salt
Maple mascarpone icing:
100g mascarpone cheese
200g full-fat cream cheese
85g icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease and line a loaf cake tin with baking paper.
Beat the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food processor until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one by one, and add the orange zest and cointreau. Stir in the sifted flour and baking powder, and add the ground almonds, walnuts, spices and grated carrot and mix together well.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, and then gently fold them into the cake mix. Scoop the mixture into the prepared cake tin and cook in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes until golden and risen.  Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, remove from tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Mix all the icing ingredients together and spread generously over the top of the cake. Finish off with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts.

No comments:

Post a Comment