Carrot cake, but not as you know it.

This is carrot cake, but not as you know it – the delicious, blood-orange soaked sultanas add such flavour to the already moist sponge, elevating the humble carrot to something rather special.

Carrot, blood-orange and hazelnut cake with cream-cheese frosting (serves 6)

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 100g sultanas
  • Juice and zest of 1 blood orange, plus 3 more to serve
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 100g light-brown sugar
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 30ml runny honey
  • Half a teaspoon ground ginger
  • Half a teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 200g carrots, grated
  • 85g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Icing

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 300g icing sugar

Method
Preheat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4 and grease a 9in spring-form tin, placing a circle of baking parchment in the base.

Gently heat the sultanas in a small pan with the juice from one of the blood oranges until it lightly bubbles, then remove it from the heat and set it aside for the fruit to soak up the juice.
Whisk together the eggs and sugar in a large bowl, then add the oil and mix thoroughly. Add the honey and spices and mix again, before pouring in the sultanas and any remaining juice from the pan.

Sift the self-raising flour into the wet ingredients and fold through until just combined. Stir in the grated carrot, orange zest and chopped hazelnuts, then pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean and the top of the sponge is lightly browned. Remove the cake from the tin and cool it on a wire rack.

To prepare the icing, mix the ingredients together in a large bowl using an electric whisk. Use a low setting at first, to avoid a cloud of icing sugar, building up to a faster speed and mixing until smooth.

Slice the top off the cake to create an even surface and cover with icing. Serve each slice with a few segments of blood orange.

More ways with carrots

carrot cakeTeriyaki chicken with carrot purée, black sesame and chargrilled broccoli
Cut 2 chicken breasts into strips, put in a bowl and pour in teriyaki sauce to cover—leave to marinate in the fridge for an hour. Cook 2 large, chopped carrots in boiling water until soft, drain and purée with a stick blender. Add a quarter of a teaspoon of sesame oil and 2 teaspoons of light soy sauce and mix well, then push the purée through a fine-meshed sieve. Thread the chicken strips onto skewers and fry in a griddle pan until cooked through. Add pieces of broccoli to the pan and allow the edges to chargrill. Serve the purée scattered with black sesame seeds alongside the chicken and broccoli. Perfect with a side of rice and quinoa.

Honey-and-thyme glazed carrots
Boil carrots in salted water until almost tender, drain and fry in a knob of melted butter with
a sprinkling of brown sugar and an equal amount of honey. Add a few sprigs Of thyme and seasoning, stir well so the carrots are evenly coated and serve as a side dish.

Roasted carrots with hazelnut mayonnaise
Roast olive oil-coated carrots in a hot oven. To make the mayonnaise, whizz up 2 egg yolks in
a food processor with a pinch of mustard powder, then gradually add 300ml of hazelnut oil until you have a mayonnaise. Add seasoning and a squeeze of lemon. Serve the carrots scattered with thyme and chopped hazelnuts, with the mayonnaise on the side.