Carrot & orange cake with pecan praline

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

I nearly always choose carrot as my cafe cake of choice when faced with the decision. It’s a safe bet, but it has made me pretty discerning when it comes to knowing what consists of a good one.


For me, it needs to be full of fruit and nuts - like packed. It also needs to have the tang of orange zest throughout. When it comes to the icing (the best bit), I much prefer it to be heavier on the cheese, as I think all that icing sugar needs to be offset with a more savoury tang.

A little trick if you can be bothered, blend some of the caramel nuts so they turn into a fine, crunchy, caramel gravel and pour over the cream cheese icing layer in the middle of the cake. It is the best kind of surprise.

I used the Good Housekeeping recipe as a base and then tweaked it with my icing, flavourings, and extra very necessary calories (aka. Pecan praline...)

Makes 10-12 slices

Ingredients


Carrot Cake:

  • 225 ml sunflower oil,

  • 225 g light brown sugar

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 orange (zest)

  • 2 teaspoons orange juice

  • 225 g self-raising flour

  • 1 teaspoon. bicarbonate of soda

  • 2 teaspoons ginger

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice

  • 200g sultanas

  • 250g carrots

  • 100g pecans

For the icing:

  • 200g unsalted butter, very soft

  • 2 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • 1 orange (zest)

  • 400g Mascarpone or cream cheese

  • 250g icing sugar

  • 2 teaspoons orange juice


Pecan praline:

  • 300g white caster sugar

  • 6 tablespoons water

  • 150g pecan nuts


Method

Pecan praline

  • Roughly chop the nuts and lay on a baking sheet with brown paper

  • In a saucepan stir together the water and sugar

  • Heat over a medium to high heat and do not stir

  • Leave for 15 minutes until the sugar turns caramel

  • Once all the sugar has caramelised quickly pour over the nuts and leave in a cool place for over an hour

Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4/ 350°F

  • Grease two 6in-7in/15cm-17.5cm cake tins, I use butter and then dust with flour

  • Coarsely grate your carrot and put aside

  • Whisk together the eggs, oil, and sugar until smooth and glossy

  • Stir into the mixture the measured dry ingredients with the sultanas and chopped pecan nuts

  • Add the grated carrot, grated orange zest, orange juice and ensure everything is well mixed through

  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 30 minutes, check the cake is cooked by pushing a skewer through it - there should be no mixture attached to the skewer

  • Tip the cake out and leave to cool on a wire rack

Icing

  • Whilst the cake is cooling make your icing

  • Beat together the icing sugar and butter with the orange zest until light and fluffy

  • Gradually add the mascarpone beating continuously

  • Flavour with the orange zest, juice, and vanilla


Assemble the cake

  • Snap off about 1/4 of the pecan praline and crush up in a food processor or pestle and mortar until it resembles a fine gravel

  • Layer half the icing over the bottom cake and pour over the ‘gravel’ caramel nuts

  • Layer on you top cake layer and cover with the rest of the icing

  • Break up praline caramel into shards and decorate the top of the cake



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