Makes 1 large cake, serves 12-15

With some carrots looking decidedly sad in the bottom of the fridge I started hunting in my files for my carrot cake recipe. I was amazed to find it being pedantically picky about the variety of carrot to be used – Purple Haze, one of the bi-coloured varieties – and, on checking the whole document which was variety specific for every recipe, I remembered some work that I did for Thompson & Morgan on new seed varieties for a buyers/growers event. It has been lovely to munch our way through this cake, which I think is better a day or two after baking.

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It’s the sort of cake that needs a fork – or a lot of finger-licking!

• 150g carrots

• 350g self-raising flour, white or wholewheat

• 1tsp bicarbonate of soda

• 1 tsp mixed spice (optional)

• 150g light muscovado sugar

• 50g walnut pieces, finely chopped

• 2 bananas, weighing about 250-300g

• 3 large eggs, beaten

• 175ml sunflower or rapeseed oil

Topping:

• 175g unsalted butter, softened

• 200g full-fat soft cheese

• 150-200g icing sugar, sieved

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

• Walnuts and/or grated carrot for decoration

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Line the sides and base of a 23cm round spring-form cake tin with baking parchment.

2. Peel and grate the carrots then set to one side. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mash the bananas to a pulp with a fork and add them with the eggs and oil. Beat thoroughly to a very thick batter. Add the carrot and beat again briefly.

3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour in the centre of the oven. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

4. Beat the butter until soft, then add the soft cheese and beat again. Gradually beat in the icing sugar until a thick frosting is achieved, then add the vanilla extract. Spread over the cake, decorate and harden the frosting, if necessary in the fridge, before serving.

Top tips:

• The juiciness of the carrots greatly affects the baked cake – if they are dry add 1 tbsp hot water to the batter at the end of mixing.

• To make my cake ‘more Orkney’ I made it with 250g self-raising flour and 100g beremeal with 1tsp baking powder.

• It seems like a huge amount of frosting but it does slightly sink into the cake and is delicious! This is about the only sweet topping that I really do enjoy!

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