This is the recipe that started it all. The recipe that got me through to be a contestant on the Great Irish Bake Off. The recipe that had Head Pastry Chef at The Merrion, Paul Kelly, call it “unreal” and “delicious” on TV. I was never a fan of carrot cake until I was asked to make one, putting my own twist on it with chocolate soil.
As I went through various recipes all I could think of, was how each ingredient would work and why so many I had tasted in the past would be dry and flavourless. So with moisture, flavour and texture at the top of my list of priorities I came up with the below.
For the cake
– 2 large eggs
– 200g light muscavado sugar
– 150ml vegetable oil (sunflower will work too but I prefer veg oil)
– 300g grated carrots (finely grated – This is what keeps it so moist)
– 100g sultanas
– 75g roughly chopped walnuts
– 180g self raising flour
– Good pinch of salt
– ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
– 1 tsp ground cinnamon
– ½ tsp fresh ground nutmeg
– ½ tsp mixed spice
– 250g cream cheese
– 50g softened butter
– 100g icing sugar sifted (taste after 50g and 75g roughly so it doesn’t get too sweet)
Chocolate soil, optional
– 250g caster sugar
– 4 tbsp water
– 60g chopped dark chocolate
– 50g popping candy (optional)
For the cake
1. Butter and line an 8 inch round tin. Preheat oven to 140C fan/150C oven – yes this is very low and not a typo.
2. Beat eggs in a large bowl and add oil, sugar and carrots and mix with a wooden spoon.
3. Sift all dry ingredients together and add to mix. Mix until you have all incorporated. Mixture should be very runny. If it looks a bit dry add a little more oil, but it shouldn’t be. Leave to sit for 30 mins.
4. Pour into prepared tin and place on middle shelf of oven for 47 mins.
Test cake with a skewer at this point – if it is clean, the cake is done and you can remove from the oven and allow to cool.
1. Beat soft room temperature butter and cream cheese together – add icing sugar until you have the taste you want, gradually. I have seen recipes calling for double the amount of icing sugar and they are far too sickly sweet.
2. When cake is cooled spread over the top of the cake. You can pipe this on also, I should be thick enough to hold shape.
Chocolate soil (optional but preferable)
1. Put the sugar and water in a pan or pot and brush down the sides with water. Boil to 125C, do not under any circumstances stir the sugar or it will instantly crystalise. Use a candy thermometer to show temperature.
2. Remove from heat and add chopped dark chocolate and whisk immediately (metal whisk) and fast until your arm is hurting bad and then keep going until soil forms in the pan. Soak your pot in warm water for an hour and it’ll be clean.
3. Pour onto baking tray and allow to cool completely before putting popping candy through it.
4. When soil has cooled fully spread using a spoon over the frosting.
Neil Reid made his mark on the last series of The Great Irish Bake Off with his flair for scientific techniques like reverse spherification and using things like dry ice to create Heston Blumenthal inspired creations. Neil made it to the quarter finals of GIBO and continues to create delicious desserts and bakes for all occasions with Cakes by Neil.