The art of baking

Carrot cake, May

Carrot cake, May - Credit: Archant

Known as The Cake Lady when a mature student at Norwich University of the Arts, Carol Kearns of Wymondham combines a love of baking with a talent for illustration.

In a recent poll to find the nation’s favourite cake, chocolate came out top followed by Victoria sandwich, lemon drizzle and then carrot cake. How things have changed - it would have been unthinkable when I first started baking cakes that carrot cake would even have made the top 100. It was very much a novelty when I first encountered it. The recipe had been acquired by a friend on a trip to the States and, as we were both studying American History at the time, she baked it to mark the occasion of the 1980 presidential election. It was like nothing I had tasted before and I was an immediate convert.

When I first started baking it people would always ask: “What, carrots? In a cake?” – until they tasted it, of course. Who would have predicted that 35 years later it would feature so highly in a poll of the nation’s favourite cakes?

Carrot cake

125g self-raising wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking powder

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125g light soft brown sugar

125g soft butter or baking margarine

2 medium eggs

1 tsp lemon extract

175g carrots (peeled weight) coarsely grated

50g walnut pieces, chopped

50g sultanas

For the icing

180g full fat soft cheese

25g icing sugar

1 tsp lemon extract

15g walnuts, finely chopped

You will need

A 2lb/900g loaf tin

Non-stick liner or butter and greaseproof paper

Wooden or metal skewer

Makes 8-10 slices

1 Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark four.

2 Lightly grease and line the loaf tin, or pop in a liner.

3 Measure all the ingredients (except the carrots, walnuts and sultanas) into a bowl, sifting the flour and baking powder in together. Beat the mixture with an electric hand-mixer for two minutes, then fold in the remaining cake ingredients.

4 Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface. Bake for one to one-and-a-quarter hours until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

5 Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and place on a cooling rack.

6 Beat together all the icing ingredients, except the walnuts, until soft and creamy. Place in the fridge to thicken while the cake is cooling.

7 Spread the icing across the top of the cake with a palette knife and decorate with the finely chopped walnuts. Store in the fridge.

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