Sunday, 14 October 2012

A tale of two cakes

Yesterday was my son's birthday so it's only fair that I share my two oh-so-wonderful and easy birthday cake recipes with you:  

The carrot cake

This is the “school” cake that I've been baking for my children for the last ten years. It has none of the “frivolity” of some of the fancier carrot cakes but it is an absolute star: it's an extremely “good bake” that behaves well in all quantities and shapes (I always bake it in a massive (27 x 40 cm) square tin with the normal quantities trebled), it only has five ingredients, it is a doddle to make (it can all be mixed with a wooden spoon) – and it is UTTERLY delicious! It is adored by children and adults alike (but the biggest fans are the teachers at our school: they literally swoon whenever it is wheeled in – indeed, there have been a number of ugly incidents involving Mme M and Mme P “fighting dirty” over the last crumbs...)

250 ml vegetable oil
225 g golden sugar
225 g self-raising flour
3 eggs
1 pinch of salt
250g grated carrots (I use the food mixer)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°.
Mix the oil with the sugar (by hand or with an electric whisk).
Add the eggs and the flour.
Then add the grated carrots and combine well.
Pour into your mould and bake for 50 – 60 minutes.

If you double (or treble) the quantities you need to bake it longer of course – keep checking with your skewer.

Chocolate and buttermilk cake

I'm extremely pleased with this absolutely yummy chocolate cake which I make for the children's party at home – it bakes almost like a brownie (even in the “big tin”) but holds its shape extremely well and is lovely and moist without being stodgy, dense or too rich:

100g softened butter
350g caster sugar
2 eggs
225g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
250ml buttermilk (or full-fat milk with a good dash of lemon juice)
1tsp vanilla essence 

Pre-heat the oven to 180°.
Put the butter and sugar into a large bowl and beat together. 
Add eggs one at a time and beat well until light and fluffy.
Sieve flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb of soda into the butter & sugar mix and then pour into the buttermilk and add vanilla essence. Stir well to create a smooth dough.
Put the mixture into a ca 28 cm round cake tin (or ca 20x20cm square) lined with paper. 
Bake for ca 30 mins until just set in centre. 

I've simplified my icing over the years for both cakes – now I only ever use 2 packets (500g each) of sifted icing sugar whisked with a few tablespoons of hot water (and a few drops of food colouring) into an almost glue-like consistency which I simply pour over the cake beginning from the middle.


  1. Oh the icing quantities are, of course, for "the big tin bakes"!

  2. I took your carrot cake to the next level of insane-goodness by using this Cream Cheese Frosting recipe. Overkill? Maybe:

    Frosting for a 13 X 9-inch cake.

    4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
    1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
    Juice of 1/4 lemon

    Cream the cream cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl.

    Slowly sift in the confectioner's sugar, and continue beating until fully incorporated (there should be no lumps). Stir in the vanilla and lemon juice.

  3. Ooh I love a cream cheese frosting - but the Taylors don't... :-(

  4. I used Madame Loik instead of Philadelphia. It's lighter....well, fluffier anyway.