I have already gone on and on about how genius I think the Ottolenghi cookbook is but I haven’t mentioned how truly madly deeply I have fallen for the baking and patisserie section. Full of mouth-watering and fat-inducing recipes like caramel and macadamia cheesecake, lime and basil macaroons and meringues aplenty. The next thing I am planning to try is the apple, olive oil and maple cake but I couldn’t resist trying out the carrot walnut cake first. I worship Philadelphia cream cheese. I think it is the best—it doesn’t matter how fatty it is considering it is all worth it for the silky creamy taste. Don’t even try to use the 2% less fat version as no good cream cheese icing is going to taste as good without that extra kick of fat.
One thing to note about the recipe is that it could be slightly sweeter and spicier. I would up the amount of cinnamon and maybe add a little ground cardamon but don’t add more ground cloves as it will leave a bizarre aftertaste in the mouth like you have just been to the dental hygienist. This cake isn’t heavy or cloying like some and it isn’t a dense and incredibly moist one—it is more like the light and more demure cousin of the typical carrot walnut cake.
Carrot and walnut cake
160g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
200g sunflower oil
290g caster sugar
50g walnuts, chopped
50g desiccated coconut
135g carrot, roughly grated
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
175g cream cheese at room temperature
70g unsalted butter
35g icing sugar
30g walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted
lemon zest / juice
Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb soda and spices together. Lightly whisk the whole egg with the egg yolk.
Put the sunflower oil and caster sugar in a bowl and beat for a minute on medium speed. On a low speed, add the beaten egg. Mix in the walnuts, coconut and carrot and then the sifted dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt on high till it forms firm peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into your carrot mixture in three additions, don’t overmix.
Pour the mix into the tin and bake for about an hour or so. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer and if it comes out dry (or close to dry) it is done. Let the cake cool.
Make the icing by beating the cream cheese till light and smooth. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter, icing sugar and honey and mix till light and airy. I accidentally used salted butter and it was a bit salty so I added lemon zest and a tiny bit of lemon juice to counter the salt. Fold the cream cheese into the butter mix and spread on to the cake. Sprinkle with nuts.
Recipe adapted from Ottolenghi: the cookbook (Ebury).