Getting Over Cream Cheese

13 Mar

If you ask people about their favourite food, there are always the things that they’ve liked ever since they were kids, and the things that they only came to enjoy when they were older. For example, I’ve always loved lemon cake, mainly because my Bubbie would bake one for my birthday when I was small. Other puddings took a bit longer for me to appreciate; anything coffee-flavoured, for instance. But carrot cake has taken the longest.

I stayed away from carrot cake throughout my childhood largely because of cream cheese frosting. I have always believed that cream cheese is like time with an overenthusiastic, sugared-up small child: a little goes a very long way. Cheesecake is one of the few desserts I actively dislike, and I butter my bagels rather than schmear them (yes, that does make me a half-assed Jew.)

So I sing the praises of this particular carrot cake with the enthusiasm of the recently converted. The thin layer of cream cheese frosting adds a lightness and tanginess to lift the earthy, fruity cake. Five people gobbled down the whole thing this past Saturday, crumbs and all. If that’s not a recommendation, I don’t know what is!


Carrot Cake (adapted from Cookery School at Little Portland Street and Nigel Slater’s “A Carrot Cake with a Frosting of Mascarpone and Orange” from Tender Volume 1)

250g/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
0.25 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice (For American readers, substitute pumpkin pie spice.)
4 eggs
150g/0.75 cup light brown sugar
180ml/0.75 cup sunflower oil
4 rings canned pineapple, chopped into small pieces
2 carrots, peeled and finely grated
1 handful walnuts, finely chopped (I blitzed mine in the food processor.)


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 1lb loaf tin.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and mixed spice in a bowl.

In another boil, whisk the eggs well (30 seconds with a hand whisk will do it). Add the sugar and the oil and continue to whisk until well-combined. Then stir in the pineapple, carrot, and walnuts.

Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and mix well. Make sure to scrape at the bottom to get at every last bit of dry stuff.

Put the batter into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour. Leave to cool fully, then turn out onto a plate and ice with cream cheese frosting.


100g/3.5oz cream cheese, room temperature
125g/4.5oz mascarpone, room temperature
75g/0.5 cup icing (powdered) sugar
zest of half an orange

Beat together cheeses and sugar together with an electric mixer. Stir through the orange zest.

3 Responses to “Getting Over Cream Cheese”

  1. Lynne Hodgman March 13, 2012 at 5:00 PM #

    I am delighted to see a recipe for a loaf pan rather than for a huge cake! Also, the lack of shredded coconut is delightful. (Shredded coconut? Like excelsior? People EAT that?! I like the flavor of coconut, in moderation, and use coconut milk in my Thai recipes, but really, that dry weird stuff?!)

    I wonder how much chopped pineapple that is. Maybe about a cup? It’s so easy to buy it canned and chopped here…

    • tomatoesandradiowire March 13, 2012 at 6:03 PM #

      It is indeed a cup, but since the British think cups are an American perversity, akin to eating peanut butter and talking way too loudly, I figured it was safest to say four rings. Besides, they take about ten seconds to cut into small chunks.

      The original cake recipe called for coconut, but I couldn’t find any in my local corner shop and couldn’t be bothered with a proper grocery hunt. I don’t think coconut would add much to the cake, as opposed to the pineapple adding extra fruitiness and moistness.

      • Lucy March 16, 2012 at 4:13 AM #

        The coconut thing is interesting. I actually didn’t realize that was standard in carrot cake; the recipe we use at work doesn’t have any. (And I don’t notice the lack!) Also, I’m drooling over the idea of mascarpone in the cream cheese frosting. Mascarpone = amaaaaaazing…

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