knitting carrot cake

As my dissertation is due in on Wednesday, it seemed only right that I write a blog post!Today is my flatmate’s birthday and we’ve had a lovely day of walking by canals, getting caked in mud and stuffing ourselves with pub food. Ellen is an old soul – you can usually find her knitting in front of the TV, glasses pushed down to the tip of her nose, muttering about the youths on Made In Chelsea… 😉

Her request was for carrot cake, so that’s what we’ve got here, with a knitting theme! The boyfriend and I were decorating the cake until 1am, slightly tipsy after a trip to the pub. I think he learned the valuable life lesson that fondant is a b*tch to work with… particularly when your student flat is as humid as a steamroom. I really need to learn to like buttercream because fondant fundamentally upsets the perfectionist in me.

carrot cake 3

But anyway, this is a Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe. I’m at the stage now where my addiction is so complete, I go straight to her website if I want to try something new and you can guarantee it will be good. This cake has pineapple in it which adds a really nice tang. I’ve changed it slightly: she adds pecans, which I’m sure would’ve been lovely but I managed to burn them. Twice. Following her cream cheese icing recipe made way more than I needed, and it was also surprisingly runny – I think because you can’t buy ‘brick cream cheese’ in the UK, so normal Philly had to do.

carrot cake 2

Cream cheese carnage

Knitting-themed Carrot Cake

  • Difficulty: not too tricky
  • Print

Ingredients

Carrot Cake:
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar, packed down
  • 0.5 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 0.75 cup pineapple pieces
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb. soda
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 0.25 tsp nutmeg
  • 0.25 tsp ground cloves
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups grated carrot {2 large carrots}
Cream cheese icing:
  • 225g full-fat cream cheese {room temp.}
  • 60g unsalted butter {room temp.}
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
 Decoration:
  • block of ready-to-roll white fondant {I bought a kilo, but I think 500g would be enough}
  • food colouring
  • knitting needles/chopsticks/anything long, clean and pointy

Method

Carrot cake:
Preheat the oven to 175*C and line two/three circular 8″ tins with greaseproof paper.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, caster sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, pineapple and vanilla until smooth.
In another mixing bowl, sift in the flour, raising agents and spices and stir together.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry and fold through.
Stir in the grated carrot.
Divide the mixture between the tins and bake for around 20 minutes. With just two tins, I divided the mixture into two-thirds (tall tin) and a third (short tin). The short tin took around 20 mins to bake, whilst the tall one took almost an hour and I covered it with tin foil so the top didn’t burn. Just keep checking it with a skewer periodically and take it out when it’s clean. 
 

Leave the cakes to cool completely. If you’ve got one taller cake, cut it in half so you’ve got three equal layers.

Icing:

Measure out the butter and cream cheese into a mixing bowl and beat with electric beaters for a couple of minutes until smooth.

Sift in the icing sugar and mix it through gently with a spatula, then beat it on high for a couple more minutes. Add in the vanilla and a splash of milk if it’s too dry, then beat again. You know the story – if it’s too slack, add some more icing sugar or chill it in the fridge for a little while.

Taste, and if it’s too sweet, add a pinch of salt.

Pop your first layer on a serving plate and add a dollop of icing on top. Spread it out to the edges and then position your next layer on top. Repeat this process until all your layers are in place, and use around half of the remaining icing to completely cover the cake in a ‘crumb coat’.

Now’s the time to play fridge Jenga and put your cake in there to set up for an hour or so.

Decorating:
Whilst your cake is in the fridge, you can colour your fondant. Just break it off into small chunks, flatten out with your hands and add a few dollops of food colouring. Then, knead on an icing-sugar-coated surface until the colour is consistent {although the marbled effect is also pretty if that’s what you’re going for!}. Wrap the fondant in clingfilm until you need it. I made the bulk of mine dark purple {around half a packet}, and used about a quarter as my wool, just leaving it white.
Retrieve your cake and coat it liberally with another layer of the cream cheese icing. Put it back into the fridge for a little while.
Roll out the {purple} fondant into a large circle – around the thickness of a pound coin – and roll it back onto the rolling pin {or whatever else you’ve used to roll it out, I only had a glass}. Pick it up and drape it over the cake, then smooth out the sides, cut off any excess and fill any holes. You can make a glue to fill in any cracks by mixing a little piece of fondant with 0.25tsp water and mushing it until it’s like a paste {= lifesaver}
Now, the knitting part: take a small chunk of your white fondant and roll it out into a long thin sausage. Bring the two ends together so you have a very thin, elongated ‘U’ shape, and twist them all the way down. Repeat, but next time, twist them in the opposite direction. When you put the two twists next to each other and match up the swirls, they kind of look like a knitting stitch – so continue on until you’ve made enough to cover all or part of your cake, depending on what your design is like.
Transfer the twists to the cake and gently press down, or use a little water/fondant glue to stick them down if they don’t stay. Position one of your knitting needles just below the loops of the fondant twists, and rest the other above it {alternatively you can stick it into the cake}.
I rolled out the remaining white fondant into a very thin sausage and used it to write Ellen’s name and fill up some of that empty space.

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2 thoughts on “knitting carrot cake

  1. Ooh your flat mate must have been so pleased to have received this for her birthday, I know I would have been. Regarding the cream cheese…if you can, try Longley Farm Cream Cheese (it’s made by a local farm up here in West Yorkshire that supplies market stalls, shops and supermarkets) and is way tastier and firmer than Phili (plus a bit friendlier on the pocket) so makes a better mixture.
    PS your new self hosted site looks great 🙂
    Angela x

    Like

    • Ooh, I’ll have to keep a look out for that, because Philly definitely didn’t work! And thank you kindly! It’s been a labour of love for sure but nice to have it all sorted now 😀
      Hannah x

      Like

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