Spicy Orange Maple Wholemeal Carrot Cake

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Photography Andy Arnfield _ The Gourmet Grocer

This weekend in Sydney was just horrendous, with lashing storms and torrential rain, there was no way I was leaving the house and comfort food was required, to go with a big steaming mug of hot chocolate, so my all time favourite cake was called for, the good old carrot cake. Just to mix things up a bit, I thought I would sway away from tradition and include the warm flavours of orange and maple syrup and, not that I am really bothered about how healthy a cake is, I decided to use wholemeal flour and the results were stunning. I am sat here writing this post with a nice big piece of cake now. The recipe below, is for a three layer cake, which would happily feed 18-24 people, but if you wanted to make a smaller version just divide the ingredients into thirds for the same result

Yield 18-24

For the cake

1 1/2 cups  vegetable oil
3 cups  wholemeal plain flour and more for flouring the pans
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. table salt
6 large eggs
450g grated carrots
3 cups packed light brown sugar
Zest of one orange
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, toasted
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting

500g cream cheese, softened
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g icing sugar
1/4 maple syrup
4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. table salt
2 cups chopped walnuts and some whole for decoration

Directions
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 180°c. Lightly spray oil and flour on the sides of three 9 x 2-inch round cake pans, tapping out any excess flour. Line the bottoms of the pans with baking paper.

In a bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. In a large bowl, with a hand mixer,  or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the oil, eggs, carrots, brown sugar, walnuts, orange zest, and vanilla  until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just blended, about 30 seconds. Divide the mix evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake until the tops of the cakes spring back, when lightly pressed and a skewer inserted into the centers comes out clean, around 30 minutes.

Let cool in the pans on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pans to loosen the cakes, invert them onto the rack, remove the pans, and carefully peel away the baking paper. Set the cakes aside to cool completely before frosting.

For The Frosting
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter, with the mixer on medium speed until very smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the icing sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt and beat on medium high until blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cover the frosting and set aside at room temperature until the layers are completely cool.
Carefully set one cake upside down on a large, flat serving plate. Using a metal spatula, evenly spread about 1 1/2 cups of the frosting over the top of the cake. Top with the remaining cake layers, upside down. Spread a thin layer (about 1/3 cup) of frosting over the entire cake . Refrigerate until the frosting is cold and firm, about 20 minutes. Spread the entire cake with the remaining frosting and coat the out side edge with the chopped walnuts. Decorate the top with the whole walnuts

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