"I never thought the humble carrot cake could be taken to such a ridiculous level of indulgence. I was given this recipe by my good friend Pri who’s a huge fan of American-style home cooking and he’s been harassing me for ages to make it. It has all the hallmarks of great American baking - buttermilk, cinnamon, corn syrup and cream cheese, and oh my goodness, it’s heavenly with a capital 'H'. I have changed the original recipe a little, using butter instead of oil and reducing the sugar, which almost seems futile, but hey, I try...." Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co.
- 150 g unsalted butter, softened (see Note)
- 165 g (¾ cup) caster sugar
- 165 g (¾ cup firmly packed) brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 185 ml (¾ cup) buttermilk
- 300 g (2 cups) plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp ground ginger
- 2 cups grated carrot (don’t worry about peeling - you’ll need the extra fibre!!!)
- 220 g tinned crushed pineapple, drained well
- 50 g (⅔ cup) shredded coconut
- 115 g (1 cup) chopped pecans or walnuts
- 85 g (½ cup) sultanas
- 110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
- ¾ tsp bi-carbonate of soda
- 60 ml (¼ cup) buttermilk
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 2 tsp light corn syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Cream cheese frosting
- 375 g cream cheese, softened
- 100 g unsalted butter, softened
- 185 g (1½ cups) icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 60 ml (¼ cup) lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time 1 hour
Preheat the oven to 170ºC (160ºC fan-forced). Lightly grease and flour the base and sides of 3 x 20 cm round cake tins, then line the bases with baking paper.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Switch to using a hand-held whisk, then add the buttermilk and whisk to combine but don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and spices, then stir with the whisk until combined. Now switch to using a rubber spatula and fold in the carrot, pineapple, coconut, nuts and sultanas until combined. Divide the batter between the prepared tins and spread until even. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand the cakes in the tins for 1-2 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the cake and invert them onto a wire rack to cool completely before assembling.
To make the buttermilk glaze, place all the ingredients except the vanilla in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over medium - high heat. Cook for 6-7 minutes or until the glaze takes on a lovely dark golden colour, adjusting the intensity of the heat if the mixture threatens to overflow. Remove mixture from the heat as soon as the right colour is achieved. Reducing the mixture too much will make it very thick and it won’t be easily absorbed by the cake. When you’re satisfied with the colour, stir in the vanilla, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before using.
To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese, butter, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Switch to using a wooden spoon and gently stir in the lemon juice and zest. Using a spoon will prevent you from over-beating and splitting the frosting when adding the lemon juice.
To assemble, place one cake on the serving plate, with the base facing upwards. Spread one third of the glaze over the surface, then spread with a layer of frosting. Repeat with the remaining cakes, then cover the sides and top with frosting.
• If you want to use oil instead of butter, the method is much quicker, though personally I prefer the flavour of the butter in this cake over oil. Simply substitute the butter with 125 ml (½ cup) vegetable oil and mix all the wet ingredients together (except for the pineapple and carrot), then add the remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Follow the remainder of the recipe as described above.