Sourdough Carrot Cake

After sowing our carrot seeds at the farm over the past few weeks, and trying to think up ways of eating the carrots from the veggie box, it seemed only fitting to share with you my attempt at making a carrot cake (also featuring the divine figs from the box and some rosemary sprigs).

I was lucky enough to receive a sourdough starter from the lovely Linda, one of our wonderful Heritage Farm market gardeners, and have since been on the lookout for some new recipes, and between that and my discovery of a bundle of almost manky carrots at the bottom of the fridge, this sourdough carrot cake was born. Over the past few weeks I’ve made 3 of these cakes (I really do love cake), and each time they’ve been slightly different depending on what I had available. This recipe below is an adaptation of one that I found, which in turn was an adaptation of Ina Garten’s carrot cake recipe; therefore I strongly encourage you to adapt it further yourself with any changes to keep the evolution going.

Here’s what you need:

300g carrots (about 3 carrots)

1 tablespoon extra of flour

250g light brown sugar (if you run out of light brown sugar you can substitute in some dark muscovado sugar which will result in a darker, richer cake)

320ml olive oil or vegetable oil

3 large eggs at room temperature

120g unfed/discarded sourdough starter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

240g plain flour

Chai spices: 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground cardamom, ½ teaspoon ground cloves, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoons of bicarb soda

Pinch of salt

150g crystallised or uncrystallised ginger pieces, roughly chopped (I just chucked in whatever I could find in the cupboard)

100g of walnuts broken into pieces by hand (initially I only had candied espresso walnuts at home which were a pretty delightful addition)

For the icing

225g cream cheese

100g mascarpone

100g butter softened

150g icing sugar

Dash of salt

1 tablespoon of spiced rum (optional, lime or orange juice and zest might be nice as well!)

Grease and line either a 22cm round cake tin or a loaf tin of an equivalent size and preheat the oven to 180° C (160° C fan forced).

Start by peeling and finely grating your carrots and mix with 1 tablespoon of plain flour to ensure the carrots don’t sink to the bottom of your cake. Set aside.

In a bowl put the sugar, oil, vanilla extract, eggs and sourdough starter and beat with an electric mixer until it becomes slightly paler and creamy. In another bowl, sift the remaining flour, bicarb soda, spices, and salt and gradually beat this into the wet mixture until combined.

Stir in the carrots, ginger pieces and the walnuts and pour into your cake tin. Bake for about 45-55 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave in the cake tin for about 15 minutes, and then pop the cake out and put it on a rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, it’s time to make the icing! In a bowl combine the cream cheese, softened butter, and mascarpone with an electric mixer until smooth (if it becomes lumpy you can warm the bowl a little until they soften, but be careful it doesn’t melt too much). Mix in the sifted icing sugar, salt and rum.

At this point it’s probably a good time to mention that I didn’t strictly measure the butter, mascarpone or sugar in the icing, and instead kept tasting and adjusting until I was satisfied (more mascarpone creates a creamier icing while more butter makes it a bit richer and thicker). I’d recommend doing the same, and any leftover icing can be kept to drizzle extra over slices of the cake when you serve it or if you want to be naughty it’s also quite good spread over toast (guilty!).

Decorate with anything you have around such as herbs from the garden, edible flowers, crushed walnuts or figs.

If you have any recipes you’ve been experimenting with feel free to share them with us or post them on our veggie box facebook group, we’d love to hear about them!

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