As I am boldly (or stupidly) attempting to make my own ethical wedding cakes, a couple of people have asked me to put the recipes on the blog. So here is my tested recipe for carrot cake. The chocolate cake and fruit cake recipes will follow when I have made sure they work!
I’ve been making my cakes in a big square tin with movable sides, which you can set at different widths to make the cake different sizes. You can buy these tins in most specialist cookery shops and I expect you can buy them online too. They’re not cheap as cake tins go, but it’s really useful to have one for making all sorts of different-sized cakes and loaves. Just be careful if you have a very small oven because the base of the tin is 12 inches across. Making the cakes large is important for me because there will be more than 200 people to eat them!
Every oven is different, so with cooking temperature and time, it’s wise to have a few tries at getting it just right. You don’t want your final cake to turn out to be gooey in the middle when you cut it on the day. Luckily you can make these cakes a bit in advance and they freeze really well. I plan to make mine a month or so before when I am not stressing too much, and get them out and ice them with one day left to go. Anyone who has any tips on icing cakes in a smart-looking way, please do let me know.
Ingredients: 400g/15oz unsalted butter
700g/24oz Fairtrade caster sugar
rind and juice of 2 Fairtrade oranges, grated (or a tablespoon of Fairtrade marmalade)
4 large free range eggs
1kg/2lb carrots, grated (from a farmers’ market or your own vegetable patch if you can!)
150g/5oz Fairtrade dried fruit or chopped nuts, whichever you prefer 2 tbsp vanilla essence
500g/18oz plain flour (local if possible)
4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Grease an 11 or 12 inch spring-form cake tin.
3. Beat the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.
4. Slowly add the eggs, beating well to incorporate each addition fully before adding more. Eggs can vary a lot in size, so if the mixture looks quite liquid after adding three eggs, don’t bother with the last one.
5. Fold in the grated carrot and chopped fruit/nuts.
6. Add the vanilla essence and orange bits or marmalade.
7. Finally, sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spice and salt together, then fold into the cake mixture.
8. Pour the mixture into the prepared spring-form tin and bake in the preheated oven for about an hour. The sides of the cake should be coming away from the sides of the cake tin and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake should come out clean. If the cake looks quite done on the outside but is still dribbly in the middle, turn the oven heat down a bit, and leave it for another twenty minutes. It should then cook more slowly but more evenly throughout.