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Carrot cake

This recipe is perfect for a birthday cake and a great excuse to go to town on the decoration. If you want a bigger cake, bake two and sandwich them together with extra topping before covering the outside. Such a pretty cake, aka one of Maya’s favourites, full of goodness as well being a delicious accompaniment to a cup of tea or a glass of fresh juice. And if you’re looking for a nutritional reason to indulge in this delicious cake, look no further than the fibre-rich carrots, wholemeal flour and calcium-rich mascarpone cheese topping!

Carrot cake

Preparation time: about 30 minutes
Cooking Time: about 1 hour and 15 minutes

Ingredients
300g wholemeal flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
175ml olive oil
150ml apple concentrate
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons maple syrup
175g grated carrot
1 apple, grated
handful of sultanas

For the topping:
250g mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons natural yoghurt
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
zest of 1 orange and a squeeze of the juice

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4.
  • Grease a round baking tin 20cm in diameter and line the base with baking paper.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and spices together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Mix the olive oil, apple concentrate, eggs and maple syrup together in a jug and pour over the dry ingredients.
  • Stir well.
  • Add the grated carrot, apple and sultanas to the mixture, gently stir through and pour into the tin.
  • Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until you can sink a skewer into the centre and it comes out clean.
  • Remove the cake from the tin and allow to cool.
  • Mix all the topping ingredients together and cover the cake.


Tips
Chocolate sprinkles: Use a large bar of dark chocolate or, if it’s a birthday treat, white chocolate. Place in the fridge and, when it’s chilled, use a peeler to shave off curls and sprinkle all over the topping.

Edible flowers: If you ask your greengrocer there is a good chance he will be able to get hold of edible flowers for you. Use roses, primroses, violets or certain pansies. In a small bowl whisk up an egg white until it is frothy and cover a small plate with caster sugar. Very gently dip the flowers into the egg white and then the sugar until they are lightly coated in crystals. Leave to set for an hour and then arrange on the crown of the cake. These can be made in advance as they will keep for up to a week in a cool, dark place.

Fruits, nuts and herbs: The cake also looks beautiful when decorated with peach slices, red currants, blueberries, raspberries and mint. Or if you’d rather use nuts, toast a large handful of whole nuts in the oven with 2 tablespoons of honey. A mix of pecans, walnuts and macadamia will be delicious. When they are cool, pulse them in the processor or chop finely by hand, then sprinkle them all over the creamy topping.


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