Ras el hanout carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

Among the first things I discovered when I moved to London was carrot cake. Somehow, I had never come across this massively delicious classic. I finally developed my own version – my perfect, never-fail carrot cake with a Moroccan twist. My friends can’t believe how simple it is to prepare and how good it tastes.

Matt Russell

MAKES 1 X 20CM CAKE

SERVES 8

200g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1½ tsp ras el hanout seasoning (bought or see the book for homemade)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
200g caster sugar
180ml sunflower oil, plus extra for oiling
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
150g freshly grated carrots
60g walnuts, chopped

FOR THE FROSTING
150g full-fat cream cheese
100g icing sugar
70g unsalted butter, softened

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. Oil a 20cm deep round cake tin, then line with baking paper.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ras el hanout, cinammon and salt together in a large bowl. Place the sugar, oil, vanilla extract and eggs in a separate large bowl and stir together with a whisk or fork until well blended.
Add the flour mixture to the egg and sugar mixture and stir just to combine – be careful not to overmix as this will make the cake too dense. Then add the grated carrots and walnuts and stir to combine.
3. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 35–40 minutes until the top is golden brown, the cake feels spongy to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out dry.
4. Meanwhile, make the frosting. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and use a hand-held electric whisk to slowly beat them together until smooth and fluffy. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
5. Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer from the tin to a wire rack to finish cooling. Once your cake is completely cool, cover the top with the frosting and serve.

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