If my family had to choose our favourite cake, carrot cake would be a top contender, along with Advocaat cake and ricotta cake. I have tried and tested many different versions of this classic bake, from family recipes to celebrity chefs. Some of them we loved, some decided not to bake again.
When I was asked to mention a Be a Star, Bake a cake fundraiser on my blog, I was offered a selection of delicious recipes to try.
Bowel Cancer UK is encouraging the nation to join celebrity chefs to bake their favourite cake for their families, friends and colleagues to raise money for the charity for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month.
Celebrity chefs - Rick Stein, Tom Kitchin, Brian Turner, Eric Lanlard, Tom Aikens, the Hairy Bikers, Gennaro Contaldo, Deliciously Ella, Mark Greenway - whipped up their favourite bakes in order to inspire the Brits to bake their favourite cake for Be a Star, Bake a Cake.
"This year Bowel Cancer UK, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary, is oping more people than ever will hold a bake sale during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month in April and raise as much money as possible to help fund vital research and lifesaving work to stop bowel cancer.
More than 44 people die from bowel cancer every day in the UK, it's the nation's second biggest cancer killer. However, it shouldn't be. It's treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early"
Steph Mills, Community Fundraising Manager at Bowel Cancer UK says: "Whether you're a whiz in the kitchen or if baking sends you into a tiz, our celebrity chef supporters have a recipe for you. Test your souffle skills with a delicious Chocolate Orange Souffle by the Hairy Bikers, make your chocolate brownies less devilish with Deliciously Ella's sweet potato borwnies or if you're after indulgence, Tom Aikens' chocolate cake will satisfy your sweet tooth. Then hold a cake stall, coffee morning or afternoon tea and invite your friends and colleagues to make a donation and sample the delicious treats".
Your bake will make a real difference - sign up here - Be a Star, Bake a Cake.
There were several recipes I fancied trying, but I can never resist another variation of the carrot cake.
Tom Kitchin's version is very carroty, and as a traybake, it is easily divided into portions for a bake sale.
Mini carrot cakes with cream cheese topping by Tom Kitchin
makes 12 cakes
a little butter for greasing
190g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
3/3tsp freshly grated nutmeg
95g dessicated coconut
4 free range medium eggs
135ml vegetable oil
190g soft dark brown sugar
400g peeled carrots, grated
270g cream cheese
230g icing sugar, sifted
160g unsalted butter, softened
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped or 1tsp vanilla extract
finely chopped carrot and grated orange zest to finish
Heat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Grease and line 30x20cm baking tin with baking parchment. Sift the flour with the baking powder, bicarb of soda and spices into a large bowl.
stir in the dessicated coconut.
Using an electric mixer or hand whisk, whisk the eggs, oil and brown sugar together until fluffy and thick. Using a large metal spoon carefully fold in the flour and coconut mixture until just combined. Finally, add the grated carrots and fold in gently.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, spreading it evenly and into the corners. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a fine skewer or cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the topping, beat the cream cheese, icing sugar, butter, vanilla seeds or extract together, using the mixer or whisk, for at least 5 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and white.
Cut the cake into bite size helpings and pipe a generous dollop of the cream cheese mixtures on top.
Finish with a sprinkling of finely chopped carrot and grated orange zest.
It happened to be an interesting version of our favourite cake, and not only visually - I typically make a round carrot cake, sliced in half and frosted with cream cheese frosting.
I have a square cake tin, so poured the remaining cake batter into four paper cupcake cases.
Our verdict: it was a tasty bake, but for me the ratio of carrots to flour was slightly odd. I usually grate 2 carrots and use more flour. Here the amount of carrots is double to flour, so it is a very carroty carrot cake. It is healthier, of course. I also missed the chopped walnuts in the cake, so added a few chopped ones to the frosted tops.
It's a moist bake, crumbly and not over-sweet. The frosting is delicate and works beautifully with the carrot cake.