I’ve written several times about my search for the perfect carrot cake. I used to live in Manchester and often went the the North West Arts Association café and my treat would be a slice of passion cake. I didn’t know what was in it except for chopped walnuts, but it was a deep golden colour, soft and delicious and covered in a cream cheese frosting – which I had never had before. When a friend sent me an American cookery book and the recipe for passion cake suggested that it would be very similar to the cake I occasionally ate in the NWAA café before it went off the menu. I made the recipe… and it was very near… but not quite. I realised that this passion cake recipe, which contained carrots and walnuts, might be a posh name for carrot cake which was just becoming popular…
Since then I’ve eaten many slices of carrot cake, and made followed many recipes myself, but although some have been close, none have been quite right. The cake should be moist and light but at the same time satisfying and not too airy. It should not be overpoweringly flavoured with cinnamon, just a hint of mixed spice or even allspice is enough, and the icing is crucial too!
I’ve been looking at a distant cousin’s recipes again, and among them is her carrot cake… I think I must give it a go! She uses plain flour and baking powder, but I am very sensitive to the taste of it, so I think I will try with self-raising flour.
Shirley’s carrot cake
- 8 oz sugar (I guess castor and not brown)
- 6 fl oz oil
- pinch of salt
- 8 oz self-raising flour
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 7 oz grated carrot
- 2½ walnuts chopped walnuts – not too small
- beat the eggs with the pinch of salt then beat in the oil
- stir in the dry ingredients, folding in the nuts and carrots last
- bake for about one hour at 180º C, 360º F, gas mark 4
- 2 oz cream cheese
- 4 oz icing sugar
- 1 tbsp butter
- cream the butter and cream cheese
- add the icing sugar, beat well
Will this be the one? I will let you know!