When tasked with making my brothers 40th birthday cake, I was asked by his wife to make him a Mr Men cake. I knew instantly that I was going to have to do something pretty special flavour-wise to distract from how lacking my sugarcraft skills were.
For months I thought about Lemon Drizzle tier cakes, Extravagant Chocolate Cakes, Salted Caramel, Toffee Apple Layer Cakes… but none of them seemed right.
This wonderous book dropped onto my doormat (Not literally, I have no doormat or a letterbox but the image of me opening my post box isn’t as familiar)
I’ve been following Joy’s blog for a good while now and I’ve bigged it up here and on twitter quite a lot but for the uninitiated of you – Joy the Baker is wonderful, what she doesn’t know about baking probably doesn’t need to be known. Her food styling & photography is inspiring, the dishes she creates (not always naughty) sound delicious but mostly it’s her warm and friendly voice that comes shining through – she’s a helpful old friend with no airs and graces. She doesn’t judge her readers, far from it she embraces us all.
Anyway sorry (Fan Girl alert!) My point is I love Joy and her book didn’t disappoint and this is where the recipe for (Everything but the) Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake came from. As the name suggests a lot goes into this cake and the results are impressive. I’ve adapted it slightly as it seems pretty difficult to get some of the ingredients in the UK – Crushed Pineapple anyone? Sweetened Shredded Coconut?
Please excuse the photo, in all the excitement of the party (and going to my very first Rugby game) I completely forgot to use my proper camera and lighting to get a decent shot. But you get the idea, it’s a cake – with stuff on and LOTS of stuff in it and it’s delicious and impressive and suitable for a party and distracts from (not completely) dodgy sugarcraft.
Everything but the Kitchen Sink Carrot Cake
makes one bundt cake or one 2 layer 9 inch cake
370g / 13 oz plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
200g / 7oz golden granulated sugar
200g / 7oz + 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
415ml vegetable oil
820g tin of Pineapple rings
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
140g grated carrots
40g desiccated coconut
30g dried cranberries – chopped
30g pistachios – chopped
Cream Cheese Frosting
225g / 8oz cream cheese, softened
110g / 4oz butter, also softened
pinch of salt
250g / 9oz icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
20g desiccated coconut
To turn the Pineapple rings into crushed pineapple – drained the pineapple and squeeze all the juice out of each ring with your mean fists. It’s surprising how much juice is left in them. This will take a while and be pretty messy BUT was incredibly relaxing. After all the squeezing the pineapple weighed 181g. Set to one side.
Preheat the oven to 180°c / 350°f / gas mark 4 and grease and flour the Bundt pan (or two 9 inch cake tins)
In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon and place to one side.
In a different bowl whisk together the eggs, yolk and sugars – beat until slightly thickened and well combined.
Add the oil to the egg & sugar mixture and carefully incorporate (If using a stand mixer keep it at a slow speed, unless you really want to decorate your whole kitchen and face!)
Now add the pineapple and vanilla and stir until incorporated.
Add the pineapple mixture to the flour mixture (all at once) and fold together – when just about incorporated fold in the carrots, coconut, cranberries and pistachios. Fold evenly until blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin(s) and bake on the middle shelf.
A Bundt cake will take between 45-55 minutes and cake layers will take between 30-45 minutes. The cake will be cooked when a skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.
To make the cream cheese frosting – Beat the cream cheese for about 1 minute, ensuring it is soft a pliable (such a wonderful word – say it with me… pliable, pli…able) Add the butter and beat together until combined. Finally add the salt, icing sugar and vanilla and beat until the icing sugar grains dissolve… to test this, the best way, is sadly… to eat some!
Dollop over the top of your cooled cake (or in between the layers AND top if making a layer cake) Bundt’s are beautiful things that don’t ever require you to be perfect, so don’t even try to be.
Finish with a sprinkling of Cranberries, Pistachios and Coconut (and the Mr Men characters of your choice!)
Serve with the finest tunes from the 70s, your brother wearing lime green fluro psychedelic bell-bottoms and a bottomless wine glass.