Nigella’s carrot cake with ginger and walnuts is a twist on the classic – not too much icing, not too sweet. Just right with a cup of tea.
For the cake
- 200g/7oz plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt
- 175g/6oz soft light brown sugar
- 2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
- 200ml/7fl oz vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
- 200g/7oz carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
- 100g/3½oz walnut pieces, roughly chopped, plus extra for decorating
- 75g/2½oz crystallised ginger, finely chopped, plus extra for decorating
For the icing
- 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, softened
- 100g/3½oz icing sugar, sieved if lumpy
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 100g/3½oz cream cheese
- 1 tbsp coarsely grated fresh root ginger
- Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas 3½ and grease the sides and line the base of a 20cm/8in springform cake tin with baking paper.
- Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger and salt together in a bowl.
- Beat the sugar, eggs and oil in another large bowl until they are completely mixed together, then gradually add the flour mixture. At this stage the mixture may seem alarmingly stiff, but the carrots will loosen it up. Beat in the carrots and then fold in the walnuts and crystallised ginger, until everything is evenly combined.
- Spoon into the prepared tin. Don’t worry if it looks as if you haven’t got enough batter, as the cake will rise well as it bakes. Smooth the top and bake for 45–55 minutes. When it’s ready, the cake will be set and golden brown on top, beginning to shrink away from the edges of the tin and a cake tester will come out with just a few crumbs stuck to it. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool in its tin.
- Meanwhile, to make the icing, beat the butter and icing sugar together and when combined, beat in the cornflour, followed by half the cream cheese. Once that’s incorporated, beat in the remaining half. Be careful not to over-beat or the icing will get too runny. Squeeze the juice from the grated ginger into the bowl and mix in, discard the ginger flesh. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge.
- When the cake is completely cold, take the icing out of the fridge for about 20 minutes. Beat briefly to make sure it’s smooth. Remove the cake from its tin and place on a plate or cake stand. Spread the icing on top, swirling it a little, then sprinkle some chopped walnuts and crystallised ginger on top.
Before you chop the amber dice of crystallised ginger, rub the cubes between your fingers to remove excess sugar. Then chop them finely, though not obsessively so: you want small nuggets, not a jammy clump. And, for what it’s worth, I find it easier to crumble up the walnuts with my fingers, rather than chopping them on a board.