To tell you the truth, I think I’ve cooked a dozen different versions of this recipe so far. And after having cooked so many, a couple of recipes have become my favorites. This is one of them. The one I’ve made and shared with friends & family the most.
When I’m lucky enough to travel to London, I always try to make a stop at “Pret a Manger”, a relatively healthy fast food chain in UK, with the only excuse of having a portion of their famous carrot cake and a very hot latte. I love Pret’s Carrot Cake. So much that since the first time I had a piece of it, I’ve been madly looking for the recipe. And I found it eventually in a recipe book they’ve published. So if London is not really around the corner from where you live, maybe you should give a try to this recipe to know what I mean.
In my opinion the original recipe is almost perfect. Almost. Well, you know what happens when you prepare a recipe dozens of times: you end up becoming a fussy chef. So I’ve dared to make a few small changes in the original recipe, just to make it truly perfect. 🙂 Even though the differences between both versions are very subtle, I prefer the one I’m showing you here after. In any case, the changes I made in the original recipe are indicated below, so you can always choose with version to cook (try both!!)
Trust me, very few things are more appealing during these cold winter evenings than a giant cup of coffee served with a slice of carrot cake. Add to the equation some jazz music, and a good book… and you’ll wish time to stop!
- If you wanna try the original Pret a Manger recipe: add to the dough 75 g of chopped pineapple (canned), and remove the cloves from the ingredients list.
- Use measuring spoons for a perfect dosage of the ingredients.
- If you have time enough, I recommend you to prepare this recipe within a day in advance and let it set. The flavors will mix improving the result. Given that we are using cream cheese for the frosting, you should keep it refrigerated.
- A tip when chopping nuts: Put them into a plastic bag and roll over a kitchen roller, pressing hard. Repeat it a couple of times until they’ve got your desired size.
- 400 g icing sugar (or confectioners’ sugar)
- 100 g cream cheese (philadelphia or alike)
- 50 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 2 eggs
- 200 g soft brown sugar
- 150 ml sunflower oil (you can use corn oil too)
- 200 g carrot grated
- 50 g walnuts roughly chopped
- 200 g plain flour (all-purpose)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 1 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 150ºC (300º F/Gas 2). Grease and flour a 24 cm round pan.
- We’ll prepare the icing in advance and chill it so that it can be spread over the cake. Beat the cream cheese and butter together thoroughly with an electric whisk (a strong hand beating would also work). Add the icing sugar to the mixture in three equal batches, beating well between each addition. Put in the fridge to set.
- In a large bowl, using an electric beater, whisk the eggs at high speed until doubled in volume. Add the sugar and continue beating until pale an fluffy. With the whisk still on high speed, add the oil in a slow steady stream. Keep beating until the mixture hols the shape of any trail across the surface.
- Gently fold the carrot, walnuts and coconut into the cake mixture with a metal spoon. Sift the flour into the bowl with the cinnamon, cloves, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and fold them in gently too.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking tin, again with care so that the air you’ve taken care to whisk in isn’t whacked out. Bake for 1 hour, or until a skewer comes cut clean when poked into the centre of the cake. If the top of the cake seems to be browning too much before the centre is ready, balance a piece of baking paper or foil across the top of the tin and it will protect the cake from burning.
- Leave the cake to cool for 10-15 minutes before turning it out onto a wire reck. When it is completely cold, slice the cake in half horizontally and spread a third of the cream cheese mixture over the bottom half. Put the top back on and cover the whole cake with the remaining icing. It doesn’t need to be completely smooth -in fact you could design any surface pattern you like.