What: A carrot cake, not straying too far from the classic recipe, but absolutely perfect
Occasion: Engagement drinks
Baking cakes for a crowd (for parties etc.) is always a bit of a headache. The main issue is that I am always too eager to please, so I will take on board everybody’s preferences from the vital (nut allergies) to the downright annoying (fussy eaters). When you cross all of the shunned ingredients and flavours off the list, you aren’t always left with that much at the end, and it can be a bit of a nightmare. You have two options: Victoria sponges for everyone or bake more than one cake. I opted for the latter and this is how I came to bake three cakes on Saturday morning. Saturday was our engagement party at The Crooked Well in Camberwell (if you haven’t been, do!) and although they were taking care of the fabulous food, I wanted to bake some cakes for everybody for dessert. After careful consideration (and a small amount of stress) I decided to go with a chocolate-hazelnut layer cake, a whole-cake version of my ginger and white chocolate cupcakes and a carrot cake. Because everybody loves carrot cake, right?
Reading through this recipe was like reading through a checklist of usual carrot cake ingredients – I spied nothing out of the ordinary, and believe me, this is a good thing. Of the numerous carrot cakes I have made over the years (and it is one of Ollie’s favourites so there have been plenty!) the ones I have disliked most have been those with added leftfield ingredients. Once I followed a recipe that instructed adding tinned pineapple to the mixture and the whole thing was so disgusting it ended up in the bin. Classic is definitely the way to go – if nothing else, the cake is beautifully easy to make with no crazy trickery. You just do the wet ingredients in the KitchenAid and the dry in a bowl. The majority of the exertion comes from grating carrots, and there is probably an attachment for that somewhere if you’re super lazy. As this was for a party, I followed the suggestions in the post-script at the bottom of the page and doubled the ingredients to make a three-layer cake as opposed to a two-layer one. The frosting is cream cheese, naturellement.
I confess, I have actually made this cake a number of times in the past and it never fails. Although it rises well in the oven, it somehow managed to rise consistently without creating one of those infuriating dome tops so impractical for constructing layer cakes. The best thing about this cake is that when it cools, it ends up with a sticky, almost glaze-like coating on the top. I don’t know how this happens, but it not only adds to the deliciousness, but also makes spreading frosting much easier and takes away the need for the dreaded and time-consuming crumb-coat. The added spices come through really well in this cake which, combined with the chopped pecans running throughout, gives it an real depth and warmth. Three-layers is quite a challenge to eat, so for a simple afternoon tea or similar I would recommend two. If you have drunken and gluttonous friends as I do, they’ll manage it no problem.
In Other News
Our engagement party was held upstairs at The Crooked Well. Since my first visit last year, it is quickly becoming one of my favourite pubs. Situated just off Camberwell Church Street, it is a lovely haven away from the chaos and fried chicken shops of Camberwell Green. Their food is excellent, for our party we ordered from the ‘platters’ menu and had salt and pepper squid, goats cheese mousse on pumpernickle, spicy chicken wings, gravadlax and chorizo sausage rolls. They also have an excellent a la carte and Sunday roast menu with the most spectacular cheese board I have ever seen. I might sound like I’m gushing, I totally am, this place is ace.