It’s important to use full-fat cream cheese for the icing; if you use a low-fat version, the icing will just run off the cake. Carrot cake is beautifully moist, so keeps well. If your kitchen is warm, store the cake in the fridge.
For the Cake:250ml (9fl oz) sunflower oil 4 large eggs 225g (8oz) light muscovado sugar 200g (7oz) carrots, peeled and coarsely grated 300g (10oz) self-raising flour 2 tsp baking powder 1 tsp ground mixed spice 1 tsp ground ginger 75g (2½ oz) walnuts, shelled and chopped, plus 8 halves to decorate
For the Icing:50g (1¾ oz) butter (room temperature) 25g (scant 1oz) icing sugar 250g (9oz) full-fat cream cheese (room temperature) A few drops of vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C/350°F/Gas 4). Grease two deep 20cm (8in) round sandwich tins and line the bases of the cake tins with baking parchment.
2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the cake mixture, as in the tips below. Spoon the mixture evenly between the tins. Put the cakes in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until golden brown, risen and shrinking away from the sides of the tins. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
3. Make the icing: measure the butter, icing sugar, cream cheese and vanilla extract into a bowl and whisk using a hand or electric whisk until smooth and thoroughly blended.
4. Spread half the icing on one cake, sit the other cake on top and spread the remaining icing on top to make a swirl pattern. Decorate the top of the cake with the halved walnuts.
Making the MixturePut the oil, eggs and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Whisk until the mixture is well combined, lighter and noticeably thickened. Gently fold the carrot into the cake batter, then stir in the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, ginger and chopped walnuts until evenly blended.