Easter weekend!! We don't really have a huge amount planned - work as usual! We are meant to be getting some foster kittens tomorrow (!!), but they have cancelled on us so many times that I'm not letting myself get excited until they are actually here. Aside from that we might make a few photography surfaces - we are having a surface making weekend soonish with some friends, so Rich and I just want to have a sneaky wee practice first to make sure there aren't any big hurdles that we haven't thought about before we get to the real deal!
I did however make a carrot cake yesterday, which to me is the perfect easter cake! (I'm not sure why though, maybe because rabbits eat carrots? Who knows). I just went with my standard carrot cake recipe, baked into 3 six inch tins. The thing that I really like about this recipe is that it bakes very flat, so there is minimal leveling to be done once it comes to stacking time!
I also had a play around with some cream cheese icing recipes. In the past my cream cheese icing has been super floppy and soft (yummmmmm hahah), which makes it hopeless when it comes to piping and transportation. However if you add too much butter or sugar, it loses that punchy cream cheese flavour and you end up with something that tastes more like American Buttercream. So I made three different batches, each with different ratios of cream cheese : butter : icing sugar, and I think I managed to come up with a happy medium! This recipe still has a cream cheese taste, isn't too sweet or grainy, and sets up nicely in the fridge. It also pipes well, which to me is a huge win.
I was originally going to decorate this with a few blobs here and there, but once I got started I realised that it was far too fun piping the blobs, and I had icing to use up, so I went for it! Mini eggs somehow made their way on there too at some point. This method of decoration is super easy and crazy effective - I just filled four piping bags with different coloured buttercream. Each was fitted with a different size french piping tip, and from there I just piped blobs all over the cake, adding in mini eggs here and there! I used an ateco 866 tip, and three wilton tips - the 32, 4b, and 21, but you could really use any size here, these were just the ones that I pulled out of my decorating box first! You can't go wrong with this decorating method - it's a great way to use up excess buttercream, you don't have to worry too much about a super smooth under coat, and it would be a fun project to make with kids! Plus. Carrot cake and cream cheese. Can't go wrong really.
A few wee things:
- I made this in 3 6-inch cake tins. I totally understand that not everyone will have these, so you could also make it in two 8-inch tins, or just do it all in one 10-inch tin and slice it in half before filling! Just ensure that you adjust the cooking time accordingly if you make it in a larger tin - approx 45 minutes for 8-inch tins, and 50-60 minutes for a 10-inch. Check it with a skewer in the centre of the cake - you want it to come out clean.
- The blobs use up a fair amount of buttercream. If you were just wanting to do a standard carrot cake with cream cheese icing and not have the blobs, I have included two quantities of ingredients down below. It would also look nice with just a super rustic coat of icing, and topped with some easter eggs.
- I found that the trick to a nice firm cream cheese icing which was best for piping was to use cold cream cheese, and butter that is only just at room temperature, to make sure that it stays nice and firm. I also popped it in the fridge while I was waiting for the crumb coat of the cake to chill down, and just gave it a good stir before using it again. If at any time you find it is getting too soft, just return it to the fridge for 10-15 minutes. The icing in the piping bags was at room temp for well over two hours, along with being handled, and still held its shape well though, so you should be fine!
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Carrot cake with cream cheese icing
- 2 cups (500g) raw sugar
- 1 cup (250ml) neutral oil such as canola
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup (140g) wholemeal flour
- 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 3 cups (360g, approx 3 medium carrots) grated carrot
Cream cheese Icing
Quantities needed for decorating without "blobs"
- 225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature for 30 minutes
- 450g (16oz) full-fat cream cheese, cold
- 900g (7 ¼ cups, 2 lbs) Icing sugar
- Juice of one Lemon
Quantities needed if decorating with "blobs"
- 340g (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature for 30 minutes
- 675g (24oz) full-fat cream cheese, cold
- 1.35kg (10 ¾ cups, 3 lbs) icing sugar
- Juice of 1 ½ lemons
- Mini eggs or other easter eggs (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Grease and flour 3 6-inch cake tins.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or with an electric beater, mix together the sugar, eggs and oil until well combined. Sift in the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices, and mix on low for 1-2 minutes until combined. Add carrot, and mix well.
- Divide the mixture between the three tins. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the centre of the cake bounces back when lightly pressed, and a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the cake tins for 15 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely. If you are making ahead, wrap well in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
CREAM CHEESE ICING
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese on high until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add icing sugar, and mix on low to combine. Turn the mixer to high and beat for another 3-4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add lemon juice and beat until well combined. Store in the fridge until ready to use, and either beat again with a mixer, or mix well with a spatula before using.
- Level cakes if necessary. Place the first layer of cake on a rotating cake turntable or cake stand. Spread with a layer of cream cheese icing, and smooth down with an offset spatula. Repeat with the next two layers. Spread icing evenly over the top and sides of the cake using an offset spatula, smoothing the top first, then the sides with a bench or icing scraper. Level off the top using the edge of the scraper, or an offset spatula. Ensure that the cake is evenly coated with a smooth layer of icing. Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
- Divide the remaining buttercream between four bowls. Using a small amount of gel food colouring, tint the buttercream your desired colours, leaving one white. Place into four piping bags, fitted with different sized french piping tips.
- Pipe 'blobs' of buttercream over the surface of the cake - start with a few big blobs of one colour, and then go in with each colour to fill in the gaps. Continue until the sides and top of the cake are covered. Add easter eggs where you see fit.
- Rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
Carrot Cake recipe from Annabel Langbein