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(Sticky Carrot, pineapple, ginger and macadamia cake)

This is my favourite carrot cake. There are many others like it, but this one is mine.

To think, I didn’t even give it a second glance when I first saw the recipe in one of my favourite cookbooks. It was a chance conversation with a friend that led me to give it a go. You know you have to when people whose opinion you trust, exclaim, “You must make it! It’s soooo good!”, while their eyeballs are rolling to the back of their head and they’re dribbling a little at the thought.

So after I’d cleaned up the mess she had made to the carpet, I resolved to buy some carrots and try the cake. This was almost a year ago. Since then, I’ve made it a few more times and it’s still as luscious and lip-smackingly moist as ever.

Don’t be daunted by the seemingly long list of ingredients. It takes less time to measure out than you think. Don’t stint on the frosting either. If you’re on a New Year’s health kick (like many people I know), you could substitute some of the sour cream for thick yogurt. Whatever you do, don’t omit the frosting entirely! It truly completes the entire cake-eating experience.

The recipe? Why here it is, but should you attempt it, please don’t blame me if any random drooling occurs.

Sticky pineapple, carrot, ginger and macadamia cake :
(serves 12 – 16; from Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery)

for the cake :
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
440g caster sugar
35g shredded coconut
120g roasted macadamias, roughly chopped
6 pieces crystallised ginger, finely chopped
3 eggs
60ml buttermilk
60ml macadamia oil or light olive oil
2 cups grated carrot (approximately 4 medium-sized peeled carrots)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 x 440g can crushed pineapple (in natural juice), drained
toasted coconut chips, to serve

for the sticky glaze :
110g caster sugar
60ml buttermilk
60g unsalted butter
2 teaspoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the vanilla cream :
250ml thickened cream
190ml sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180’C. Butter two shallow 23 or 24cm round cake tins. Line the bases with buttered baking paper then dust the tins with flour. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar and mix everything together with a balloon whisk for 1 minute. Add the shredded coconut, macadamias and ginger and toss them about so they’re well coated in the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, then whisk in the buttermilk and oil until just combined. Use a spatula to stir in the carrots, vanilla extract and drained pineapple. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir them together until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the cake tins. Sit them on the middle shelves of the oven and bake them for about 40 minutes or until the centre of each springs back when lightly pressed.

Meanwhile, to make the sticky glaze, put all the glaze ingredients except the vanilla extract into a small saucepan over medium-heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then bring it to the boil. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat to low-medium so the syrup bubbles steadily and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract, then set aside in a warm spot.

When the cakes are ready, transfer the tins to a wire rack. Leave them in their tins and immediately pour half of the sticky glaze over each cake, tilting them so the tops are evenly coated. Leave them to cool for 30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the tins, discard the baking paper and let them cool completely on wire racks.

For the vanilla cream, put all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk carefully just until soft peaks form. Gently loosen under one of the cake layers and sit it on a serving plate. Spread about half of the cream evenly over the top, leaving a slight border all around (this is so the cream doesn’t squish out the sides when the next layer goes on). Sit the second layer on this. Spread the remaining cream evenly over the top. To finish it off, dot the toasted coconut flakes over the top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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