Carrot & Sultana Cake with creamy orange frosting

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I do love a nice moist cake and when I came across this recipe, on BBC Food, by The Hairy Bikers, I thought it sounded ideal.  Carrot and sultanas in a cake sound very good, but add in some pecan nuts and things get even better.  Then to top it off with a creamy frosting flavoured with some orange juice and zest seemed to me that it would be delicious.

The recipe is quite straightforward, even though there are quite a few ingredients.  It is just a question of mixing the dry ingredients, then mixing the wet ones, and combining the two before finally stirring in the grated carrot.

I am very pleased with how my attempt turned out, though I did cook it for slightly longer than the recommended 35-40 minutes, since I wasn’t convinced that it was fully cooked in the middle.

Once cooled and topped with the frosting and some pecans I cut it into squares and ate just one.  I have to say it tastes fantastic, and the topping really is very creamy.  I had to stop myself from eating a second square right away.

Carrot & Sultana Cake, with creamy orange topping

For the cake

  • 200g/7oz self-raising flour
  • 75g/3oz sultanas
  • 75g/3oz pecans, broken into rough pieces
  • ½ large orange, zest only
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ whole nutmeg, finely grated
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 175ml/6fl oz sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 175g/6oz soft light brown sugar
  • 200g/7oz carrots, grated

For the cream cheese icing:

  • 100g/3½oz icing sugar
  • 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp fresh orange juice
  • 200g/7oz full-fat cream cheese
  • ½ orange, zest only
  • 25g/1oz pecan nuts, roughly broken, or whole
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C (fan)/Gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm/8in square loose-bottomed cake tin.
  2. Place the flour, sultanas, pecans, orange zest, cinnamon, grated nutmeg, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large bowl and mix until well combined.
  3. Beat the eggs until smooth. Add the sunflower oil and sugar and whisk until well combined.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and beat in the egg mixture until smooth. Stir in the carrots. 
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and smooth the surface. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes, until the cake is well risen and feels springy to the touch. (Test the cake by inserting a skewer into the centre. If the skewer comes out clean, the cake is done.)
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and set aside to cool in the tin for five minutes. Remove the cake from the tin and set aside to cool on a wire rack.
  7. For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a large bowl and add the butter and orange juice. Beat together with a large wooden spoon until light and creamy. Add the cream cheese and orange zest and beat until smooth. Cover and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or until firm enough to spread.
  8. Spread the icing over the cake and sprinkle with the pecans. Cut into squares to serve.

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