The ubiquitous carrot cake. As a child it was so familiar to me that it feels a bit like an old friend. My mother, who by her own admission was not the keenest baker, would often rustle up a carrot cake to have with our tea. It would be eaten with smug satisfaction that any cake containing a vegetable must surely be better for you. The 70’s health food craze once found gracing the counter of every health conscious cafe in the land is still as popular as ever. While we may no longer be able to kid ourselves that it is healthy, there still seems to be something nostalgically virtuous about it.
It has many incarnations – as a tray bake, cupcakes, with pineapple or dried fruit, pecans or walnuts, mascarpone or cream cheese icing (or frosting if you are American). Everyone seems to have their own recipe. The carrot cake has stood the test of time because essentially it is incredibly moist, keeps well and could not be easier to make.
My version is a nod to to the classic cake of my childhood. My mother used wholemeal flour but I am not going to even try and pretend this is healthy, so I have used plain flour. There are no sultanas (my husband refuses to eat them however attractively disguised) or fruit. Walnuts are my traditional nuts of choice and the cake is finished with a vanilla flavoured cream cheese icing. The layers are fairly easy to prepare but if you are daunted, or short on time, simply sandwich the two cakes together with a thick layer of icing in between and spread the rest on the top and sides. It will look and taste just as good and no one will be any the wiser.