Some people have no time for the combination of vegetables in cake products but I absolutely adore carrot cakes. People bemoan the use of healthy things in something unhealthy but I think that a) every little helps and b) it tastes nice!
Carrot cakes are ultimately a food of the second world war, born out of austerity and a lack of sugar, the carrots provide natural sugar meaning you could get a sweet thing without the need for expensive sugar. Carrots contain more sugar than any other vegetable, with the exception of sugar beet. This can only be a good thing in this day and age when not only are we financially challenged but our bottoms are getting increasingly larger with every generation. The use of carrots in sweet recipes has been since the Medieaval Times and it works.
I also love that carrot cake is such a great use of carrots which can otherwise be a little dull. Weightwatchers recommend using honey instead of sugar so it can be even lower in fat than normal!! Carrots are also startlingly good for you. Only 3% of the beta-carotene in raw carrots is released during digestion: this can be improved to 39% by pulping, cooking and adding cooking oil. The carrot gets its characteristic and bright orange colour from beta-carotene, which is metabolised into vitamin A in humans when bile salts are present in the intestines.
Lack of Vitamin A can cause poor vision, including night vision, and vision can be restored by adding Vitamin A back into the diet. An urban legend says eating large amounts of carrots will allow one to see in the dark. The legend developed from stories of British gunners in World War II who were able to shoot down German planes in the darkness of night. The legend arose during the Battle of Britain when the RAF circulated a story about their pilots’ carrot consumption as an attempt to cover up the discovery and effective use of radar technologies in engaging enemy planes, as well as the use of red light (which does not destroy night vision) in aircraft instruments. It reinforced existing German folklore and helped to encourage Britons—looking to improve their night vision during the blackouts—to grow and eat the vegetable.
Carrots are also rich in dietary fibre, antioxidants, and minerals. And occasionally you find one that looks like something rude and that makes every carrot cake worthwhile!!
Really good carrot cake should have a buttercream topping and be spicy with cinnamon and ginger and nutmeg. Dig in!
- 300g plain flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 200g soft brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 250ml oil
- 1 orange , zested
- 1 lemon , zested
- 200g carrots , finely grated
- 150g walnuts , chopped
- tsp of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 125g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 50g icing sugar
- 250g cream cheese
- Heat the oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2. Line a 20cm, 10cm deep cake tin. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together and stir in the sugar. Beat the eggs with the oil and citrus zests. Stir in the carrots and fold everything into the flour mixture. Fold in the walnuts and spices. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool.
- For the frosting, beat the butter and icing sugar together until soft and then beat in the cream cheese. Chill the mixture until it’s thick but spreadable. Spread a thick layer on top of the cake, making sure the side of the icing is flat and continues upwards from the side of the cake.
You could also visit the World Carrot Museum: http://www.carrotmuseum.co.uk/index.html