Pistachio-encrusted Carrot Cake

carrotcake1This carrot cake was made for my friend visiting from Newcastle. During the third year of our undergraduate degree at Bristol University we both lost the plot a little. Before our exams we only left our desks for about half an hour a day. During this break we inevitably went in search of soul-reviving snacks. In Clifton Village there was a cafe which literally served out slices of cake as big as your hand, and this is where we were always drawn to. So this cake is reminiscent of those cake breaks on the lawn in Clifton. Apologies for the very sloppy icing, it was made late at night. However, the cake underneath is so gorgeous.
225g plain flour
115g light musc0vado sugar
115g dark muscovado sugar
4 eggs
175ml olive oil
2 and a 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
300g carrots
75g desiccated coconut
50g candied peel
~100g raisins
~100g pistachios
~50g walnuts
knob of grated ginger
1 and 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
zest of 1 orange
For the frosting
150g cream cheese
100g butter
juice of half an orange
zest of one orange


1. If you plan on constructing the cake on the same day I would recommend making the frosting first so you can leave it to chill in fridge and firm up a bit. Bring the butter to room temperature and then beat it until it is a smooth consistency, no longer containing any lumps of butter. You could do this using  hand-whick very briefly, but there is always a risk of taking it too far, too quick, so I normally just cream it by hand.
2. Add the cream cheese and beat this into the butter. Zest one orange into the frosting and add a little juice. I said half an orange but this is only an approximate. Squeeze as much liquid as you dare without the mixture becoming to runny. However, it will firm up a bit after you put in the fridge. I think I actually put in just over quarter of an orange’s juice in mine.
3. Butter and line two sandwich tins. Preheat the oven to 180•C.
4. Whisk the 4 eggs, olive oil and two types of sugar together in a large mixing bowl until much lighter in colour and frothy. Mix the flours, spices and baking powder in a bowl and sift into the liquid mix, folding it in carefully.
5.  Add the zest into the cake mix. Grate the carrots, and add them into the mix and stir them thoroughly in. You don’t need to peel them first. Finally add it the rest of the ingredients; about 3cm x 3cm a chunk of grated ginger, HALF of the pistachios lightly chopped, 50g walnuts lightly chopped, the desiccated coconut, the raisins and the mixed peel. Stir them thoroughly into the cake mix.
6. Divide evenly between the two tins and  bake for 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on them. You will know when they are done because a knife inserted will come out a little moist, but not covered in mix.
7. Leave the cakes to cool. When they are ready, spread the frosting  on the top of one of them, then press the second cake on top to make a sandwich. For clear frosting definition make sure the cake is completely cool. Spread a chunky layer of frosting on the top.
8. Lightly chop the remaining 50g of pistachios and sprinkle generously over the top. It looks quite messy but I’d think of it as a rustic bake. And sometimes a little mess is good.



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