Morning Magpie's carrot cake

PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
For the cake

2 free-range eggs + 2 free-range

egg yolks

4 free range egg whites

320g flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ground cloves

400g neutral-tasting oil such as

sunflower or canola

540g white sugar

100g chopped walnuts

100g desiccated coconut

270g peeled and grated carrot (about

2 carrots)

For the icing

525g cream cheese

210g softened (to room temperature) butter

105g icing sugar

75g honey

fresh thyme

Method

Cake

Separate the eggs (6 in total). Put the whole eggs and yolks in one bowl, and the whites in another large, clean and dry metal bowl. You will be left with 2 spare egg yolks (with a little imagination you can find a way to put them to good use in some other noble kitchen endeavour).

Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and, with an electric beater, whisk until they form stiff white peaks (the salt helps to stabilise them). Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil on high for 2 minutes. Add the whole eggs and egg yolks, continuing to mix until incorporated.

Use a rubber spatula to mix the walnuts, coconut, and carrot into the creamed oil and eggs.

Sift the flour, baking powder and soda, and spices into the wet mix, and delicately fold through.

Fold one-third of the whipped egg whites into the rest of the batter, followed by the rest of them. Don't worry if there are a few streaks of white left - this is far preferable to overmixing the cake batter.

Divide the batter between two greased round silicon cake moulds. Make sure to weigh as you are filling them, so that the two rounds end up evenly sized.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 minutes at 160degC.

After baking, let the cake cool completely in the moulds (at least 4 hours). If you are leaving it overnight before icing - this is a good idea - wrap the rounds in cling film once cooled and removed from moulds.

Assembly and decoration

Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature, and also clear a shelf in your fridge that a large chopping board will fit on.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on high for about 4 minutes, until it takes on a silky consistency. Beat in the butter.

Add the icing sugar and honey, and reduce the beater to a lower speed until they are fully mixed through. Then your icing is ready!

If the cake rose into a dome shape while baking, remove the rounded top with a bread knife to make sure both rounds are level.

Place one cake round on a large chopping board, and spread a 1cm thick layer of icing on top of it. Stack the other round on it, making sure the two are well aligned. Don't worry if some of the filling comes out the sides.

Use an offset spatula to spread a thin layer of icing over the top and sides of the assembled cake. It doesn't matter if you can see the cake through this layer. Once it is covered, place the cake in the fridge for 1 hour. When this first layer of icing sets it prevents any dark cake crumbs getting mixed up in the final layer of white icing.

Once the first layer is set, remove the cake from the fridge and apply the rest of the icing as you see fit. At Morning Magpie, we put a thick layer on the top and a scant layer around the sides, but this is just a matter of taste - you should experiment and find a style you like.

Chill the cake for another hour before cutting. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves and flaky sea salt. Use a hot bread knife to cut the cake, cleaning it between each slice.

Recipe provided by Morning Magpie's Nicola Wood. Recipe requested by Leah Bunt.

If you have enjoyed a dish in an Otago cafe or restaurant and would like the recipe, write to Ask a Chef, Features, Otago Daily Times, PO Box 517, Dunedin, or email odt.features@odt.co.nz, including your name, address and a daytime telephone number, and we will request it.

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