The title of this recipe is a bit odd. 'A rather pleasing carrot cake' sounds more like Delia than Jamie to me! Nonetheless the accompanying picture whets the tastebuds even if the name doesn't (and let's face it - Delia probably does make a mean carrot cake). I have never made carrot cake before, it being yet another of the banned foods in the Picky Years; I admit that since I began to bake (shamefully only in 2001), I have focused mainly on chocolate cakes. In my defence I should say that I don't have a particularly sweet tooth, but I absolutely love dark chocolate. Recently a lovely woman called Lotta sent me some chilli chocolate from Finland; I think it was the nicest chocolate I have ever had. I love all dark chocolate, really, and some milk; I am not so keen on white chocolate unless it comes with frozen berries, and my idea of heaven is a square of 70% cocoa dark chocolate after a lovely dinner. I am digressing, though - I was intending just to justify my poor baking repertoire, not to start lusting after a square of chocolate (not the whole bar. The kinds of chocolate I like only work in moderation). Anyway, carrot cake always sounded a bit too stodgy for me - and frequently was. I hate stodgy cakes; they remind me of school dinners (and I still have nightmares over school dinners), and carrot cake always has that potential.
I had faith in Jamie though, not to provide a recipe for a Carrot Brick, and I have had my eye on this cake for weeks, but circumstances have militated against my making it. I intended to make it for visitors last week but cheesecake always seemed safer. Yesterday, though, liberated from my usual Sunday roast slavery by the easy beef stew, I came home from shopping and set to making the carrot cake. The process was easy - cream butter and soft brown sugar, beat in 5 egg yolks and zest and juice of one orange, before stirring in self raising flour and baking powder, ground almonds, chopped walnuts, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon, and grated carrots. I used a packet of ready-ground almonds but chopped my own walnuts, just because this seemed practical. I whisked 5 egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff and folded them into the cake mix; the cake was cooked for about 50 minutes until golden and risen. Here I nearly goofed: my tin was a 23 cm round tin, as opposed to the 22cm square tin suggested; I am a cake-tin ignoramus, but suspect that my tin was of smaller capacity than the proposed tin. My cake, despite my over-excitable convection oven, was not ready in 50 minutes; the cake skewer remained sticky until 65 minutes or so, which of course made me neurotic (it doesn't take much..).
I am happy to report that despite the unexpected delay, the cake came out moist, not burnt. After an hour of cooling, I iced it with the requisite mixture of mascarpone, full-fat cream cheese, icing sugar and zest and juice of two limes.
The cake was delicious - quite dense; possibly too dense for some, but I liked it a lot and it certainly isn't stodgy. I absolutely adored the icing though - lime mascarpone; utterly delicious and moreish. I would call this cake 'a rather pleasing carrot cake with FANTASTIC lime mascarpone icing', because that icing is to die for (I write as one who doesn't like icing sugar much...) ; I could eat it straight off the cake with a spoon. I admit to being a bit obsessed with limes (I always squeeze more lime juice into Thai curries than recommended...) but even so - lime icing; wicked! I am already wondering how it would work on other cakes... Thankfully, this cake makes enough for leftovers several times over; even so, I have to stop myself from doing a Nigella (remember the cringe-inducing yet compelling final scene of all the episodes of Nigella Bites?) and sneaking downstairs at night to lick off the icing.