When I was a child, my parents went through a wholefood phase. Out went butter never to return, white bread was replaced by wholemeal which took forever to chew and stuck in your mouth and pastry suddenly took on an odd shade of brown. Happily cake escaped this change although increasingly Mum used recipes from the Cranks book. One of my favourites was their carrot cake. Dense but moist and packed with flavour. Mum never bothered with the icing as she said it didn’t need it and I agree with her. Recently I actually got round to asking her for the recipe. When I read it through I was a bit puzzled by the term “raw brown sugar”. I asked Mum who said she had always interpreted this to mean demerara sugar. However given that the recipe said to whisk the sugar and eggs until thick and creamy I struggled to see how this would work with demerara. I turned to google for help and opened a minefield of information about sugar. After sifting through a few sites, I decided to try and make this with soft brown sugar.
First you grate carrots. No doubt a cleaner way would be to get the food processor out and use the appropriate attachment. However the amount of washing up it creates always annoys me (it always seems to be a lot for not a lot of usage and we don’t have a dishwasher) so I opted for the messier box grater option. JBug was kept entertained by eating the bits of carrot that flew off onto the worktop.
Then I weighed all the dry ingredients into a bowl (wholemeal self raising flour, dessicated coconut, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg) so they would be ready to be mixed in once I had whisked the eggs and sugar. As fast I weighed ingredients in, JBug was putting his hand in the bowl to eat bits of coconut and raisins! Eventually it was all accurately weighed. Next I whisked the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy using a handheld electric whisk. I think this took about 5-10 minutes before it was ready. Then I slowly whisk in the oil, trickle by trickle. Finally I mixed the egg, sugar and oil mixture into the dry ingredients until fully combined.
This was then poured into an 18cm / 7 inch square cake tin which for once is actually the size the recipe specifies! The instructions advise cooking the cake at 190C for 20-25 minutes but, as we have a fan oven, I put it in at 170C instead. At 20 minutes it was still raw but by 30 it was cooked and a lovely pale brown on top. The smell while it was cooking really took me back years – that spicy smell emanating from the oven again. Once it was cool, JBug and I had a slice each. It was just how I remembered it – dense, moist with a very slightly crunch from the dessicated coconut. We were too impatient to eat the cake to bother with the orange icing but if you happen to do so, let me know how it tastes. I’ll definitely be making this again but perhaps in a larger quantity as its fast disappearing.