Delia

The Ultimate Carrot Cake with Mascarpone, Fromage Frais and Cinnamon Icing

I have been making carrot cake for years, and each time it seems to improve with a little tinkering here and there. Now I think it has reached its all-time peak – this one has been unanimously voted the best ever!




This recipe is taken from Delia’s Vegetarian Collection. It has also appeared in Sainsbury's Magazine (Dairy Collection).

The Ultimate Carrot Cake with Mascarpone, Fromage Frais and Cinnamon Icing
Ingredients
 7 oz (200 g) wholemeal self-raising flour
 3 level teaspoons mixed spice
 1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
 6 oz (175 g) dark brown soft sugar, sifted
 2 large eggs
 5 fl oz (150 ml) sunflower oil
 grated zest 1 orange
 7 oz (200 g) carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
 4 oz (110 g) sultanas
 2 oz (50 g) desiccated coconut
 2 oz (50 g) pecan nuts
For the syrup glaze:
 juice 1 small orange
 1 tablespoon lemon juice
 3 oz (75 g) dark brown soft sugar
For the topping:
 1 x 250 g tub mascarpone
 1 x 200g tub fromage frais, 8% fat
 1 rounded tablespoon golden caster sugar
 1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
To serve:
 2oz (50 g) pecan nuts
Equipment
You will also need two  8 inch (20 cm), 1½ inch ( 4 cm) deep round sponge tins, lightly greased and bases lined with baking parchment.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C), then turn it down to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) when you have toasted the pecan nuts.

First, place all the pecan nuts on a baking sheet and, using a timer, toast them in the oven for 8 minutes. Now chop one half roughly for the cake and the other more finely, for the topping later. Then don’t forget to turn the oven down to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) for the cake. 

To make the cake, whisk the sugar, eggs and oil together in a bowl with an electric hand whisk for 2-3 minutes, then check that there is no sugar left undissolved.

Now sift the flour, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl, tipping in the bits of bran left in the sieve. Then stir all this in gently, followed by the remaining cake ingredients. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared tins and bake the cakes on the centre shelf of the oven for about 30 minutes. They should be nicely risen, feel firm and springy to the touch when lightly pressed in the centre, and show signs of shrinking away from the sides of the tin. If not, give them another 2-3 minutes and test again. 

Meanwhile, make the topping by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Then cover with clingfilm and chill for 1-2 hours, until you are ready to ice the cakes.

To make the syrup glaze, whisk together the fruit juices and sugar in another bowl and then, when the cakes come out of the oven, stab them all over with a skewer and quickly spoon the syrup evenly over the hot cakes. 

Now leave them to one side to cool in their tins, during which time the syrup will be absorbed. 

Then, when the cakes are completely cold, remove them from the tins. Spread one-third of the filling over one of the cakes, place the other on top, then cover the top and sides with the remaining icing. 

Scatter the remaining toasted pecan nuts over the top.

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