50g(3 ½tbsp)walnuts or any other nut - roasted and roughly chopped
Prepare your baking pans. Line your baking pans with oiled grease proof baking paper. I usually oil the pan and the paper. Try it and you will see the method in my madness.
Heat the oven to 170°C or 338°F.
Make the cake batter. Sieve the dry ingredients. Roast cool and roughly clean the walnuts. Then chop them up roughly. Mix together the fat, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and grated carrots. Mix everything up with a spoon until you have a homogenous cake mix.
Pour your cake batter into the lined baking tin or round cake pan if you wish. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
While the cake is cooking. Make the cake topping. Place all the ingredient for the topping into a small pan and lightly simmer until the carrot is soft and the water has almost all evaporated.
Check the temperature with a temperature probe. It should read above 90°C or 194°F. Or until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean. This is ancient so I urge you to buy a thermometer. They only cost about 3 dollars.
Remove the cake from the pan/tin and let them cool on a wire baking rack until completely cooled down.Warm up the orange liquid in a pan. Poke a few holes all over the warm cake with a toothpick. Pour the hot orange liquid all over the cake.
While the cake is chilling out and cooling off. Make the frosting by sifting the icing sugar and mixing with room temperature cream cheese and butter.
Assemble and frost the cake.
Once the cake reach room temperature, cut it in half horizontally. You could cut off the sides and level the top if you want. I usually just do that to have little nibble and then end up with little snacky bits. Place the first cake on serving platter or wooden board, add a large spoon full of frosting to the first layer. Place the other half on top and top up with more cream cheese frosting. Finish by sprinkling some roasted chopped nuts and add the carrot confit.
Top tip - For ease of icing cakes. Place them in the freezer or fridge for a few minutes. NEVER PUT ICING/FROSTING ON A WARM CAKE. IT WILL MELT.
Safety - Always store finished cakes covered in the fridge especially if it contains frosting or decor that includes fresh dairy. (Like the cream cheese in this cream cheese frosting)
Freezing - Carrot cake freezes well and will last for up to three months if covered airtight.
Cooking times - Ovens cook different and people use different shaped trays and tins to bake in. The most foolproof way to check if a cake is done is to check the internal temperature. It should read above 90C or 194F. Alternatively, the age-old stick-a-tooth-pick or skewers method applies. If it comes out clean, it's done.
Add-ins - Change the type of nut to any type your heart desire or add in some seeds. You can also add dried fruit or citrus peel. If using dried fruit make sure to soak it a bit so the dried fruit does not end up removing moisture from the cake.
Add ons - Cream cheese frosting is classic but you can change the frosting to buttercream and add whatever you want on top. Sweet confit veggies or fruit work a treat.
Sour cream substitute - It's an age-old trick to put some sort of puree or substance with high water content in cakes to keep them moist. You can use anything with a similar consistency to apple puree or sour cream. For carrot cake, carrot puree makes perfect sense.
Changing the shape - You can use this batter and cook it into little cupcakes, muffins, bunt cakes, whatever shape your heart desire. even bake many super flat layers and build it up like a layer cake with frosting between each layer. the most important thing to remember is that the cooking time will vary for each. Thinly spread layers will cook in a few minutes while cupcakes and muffins will take up to 15 minutes depending on their size. The best and most foolproof way is to always check the internal temperature with a temperature probe. Above 90C or 194F, and you're good to go.