I had two grans: flat gran and farm gran. Both had different views on sugar: flat gran was responsible for introducing homemade sweet things into my life: coconut macaroons, lemon drizzle cake, chocolate pudding, carrot cake and farm gran liked to keep a paper bag full of chocolate bars, which we ate in front of the fire, throwing the wrappers into the flames.
Flat gran’s family mostly emigrated to Canada and frequent visits meant that the sweet things began to take on a Canadian influence. The Americans and Canadians do a good line in ‘healthy’ cakes: courgette, pumpkin, carrot, beetroot.
I love a ‘batter’ cake (no heavy pummeling of butter with sugar) and Nigel’s brownies and Nigella’s Guiness cake are great examples of low input, high output ‘batter’ cakes. (what’s not easy about melting chocolate into butter or butter into beer?).
This is the best carrot cake I have tried and made so far. The rub? Grating 8oz of carrots. But it’s worth it, even if just for the satisfaction of orange-stained palms and finger tips and the heady smell of cinnamon which fills the kitchen. The rest is just a matter of assemblage (think Lego).
Canadian carrot cake:
Grate 8oz of carrots first. Then grease a 24cm cake tin with butter.
Beat 8 fluid ounces of vegetable oil with 8oz of caster sugar in a large bowl.
Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time.
Add the sifted dry ingredients: 12oz plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1tsp bicarbonate soda, half tsp salt and 2 tsps cinnamon.
Mix in the carrots and 4oz chopped walnuts.
Put in the tin and cook at 190°C for 45 minutes. It’s a dense cake so can take longer. Use the skewer test to check.
Once the cake has cooled, mix 8oz cream cheese with 8oz icing sugar and a few drops of vanilla essence and use in the centre of the cake and as a topping.