Early recipes for carrot cake had a healthier reputation – carrots and dried fruit were used for sweetness. Now it’s a teatime special and the cream cheese frosting makes it much more indulgent.
235ml vegetable oil, plus extra for the tin
100g natural yogurt
4 large eggs
½ orange, zested
1½ tsp vanilla extract
265g self-raising flour
335g light muscovado sugar
2½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ fresh nutmeg, finely grated
265g carrots (about 3), grated
100g sultanas or raisins
100g walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped (optional)
For the icing
100g slightly salted butter, softened
300g icing sugar
100g full-fat cream cheese
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Oil and line the base and sides of two 20cm cake tins with baking parchment. Whisk the oil, yogurt, eggs, zest and vanilla in a jug. Mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg with a good pinch of salt in a bowl. Squeeze any lumps of sugar through your fingers, shaking the bowl a few times to bring the lumps to the surface.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, along with the carrots, sultanas and half the nuts, if using. Mix well to combine, then divide between the tins. Bake for 25-30 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If any wet mixture clings to the skewer, return to the oven for 5 mins, then check again. Leave to cool in the tin.
To make the icing, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add half the cream cheese and beat again, then add the rest (adding it bit by bit prevents the icing from splitting). Remove the cakes from the tins and sandwich together with half the icing. Top with the remaining icing then scatter with the remaining walnuts. Will keep in the fridge for up to five days (eat at room temperature).