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Ginger and Walnut Carrot Cake

by . Featured in AT MY TABLE
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Introduction

This is very different from the richly sweet, loftily layered and aerated American original. While it is in some senses far more reminiscent of an old-fashioned, slightly rustic English teatime treat, it is, with its ginger-spiked cream cheese icing – only on top, not running through the middle as well – just right to bring to the table, in pudding guise, at the end of dinner, too. Before you chop the amber dice of crystallised ginger, rub the cubes between your fingers to remove excess sugar. Then chop them finely, though not obsessively so: you want small nuggets, not a jammy clump. And, for what it’s worth, I find it easier to crumble up the walnuts with my fingers, rather than chopping them on a board.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This is very different from the richly sweet, loftily layered and aerated American original. While it is in some senses far more reminiscent of an old-fashioned, slightly rustic English teatime treat, it is, with its ginger-spiked cream cheese icing – only on top, not running through the middle as well – just right to bring to the table, in pudding guise, at the end of dinner, too. Before you chop the amber dice of crystallised ginger, rub the cubes between your fingers to remove excess sugar. Then chop them finely, though not obsessively so: you want small nuggets, not a jammy clump. And, for what it’s worth, I find it easier to crumble up the walnuts with my fingers, rather than chopping them on a board.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Ginger and Walnut Carrot Cake
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

Ingredients

Makes: 8-12 slices

Metric Cups

For the cake:

  • 200 grams plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 175 grams soft light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 200 millilitres vegetable oil (plus more for greasing)
  • 200 grams carrots (peeled and coarsely grated)
  • 100 grams walnut pieces (roughly chopped or crumbled)
  • 75 grams crystallised ginger (finely chopped)

For the icing:

  • 100 grams unsalted butter (soft)
  • 100 grams icing sugar (sieved if lumpy)
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 100 grams full-fat cream cheese (fridge-cold)
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon fresh ginger (coarsely grated)

To decorate:

  • 25 grams walnut pieces (roughly chopped or crumbled)
  • 25 grams crystallised ginger (chopped)

For the cake:

  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup soft light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil (plus more for greasing)
  • 1¾ cups carrots (peeled and coarsely grated)
  • 1 cup walnut pieces (roughly chopped or crumbled)
  • 4½ tablespoons candied stem ginger (finely chopped)

For the icing:

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter (soft)
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar (sieved if lumpy)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 4 ounces full-fat cream cheese (fridge-cold)
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon fresh ginger (coarsely grated)

To decorate:

  • ¼ cup walnut pieces (roughly chopped or crumbled)
  • 1½ tablespoons candied stem ginger (chopped)

Method

You will need 1 x 20cm/8 inch springform cake tin.

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C Fan/325°F and grease the sides and line the base of your springform cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger and salt into a bowl and fork well to mix thoroughly.
  3. Beat the sugar, eggs and oil in another large bowl until they are completely mixed together, then gradually add the flour mixture, scraping the bowl you’re beating them in to rescue and incorporate any flour clinging to the edges. At this stage the mixture may seem alarmingly stiff, but the carrots will loosen it up. So, beat in the carrots and then fold in the 100g / 1 cup of prepared walnuts and 75g / 4½ tablespoons of crystallised ginger, until everything is evenly combined.
  4. Spoon and scrape into the prepared tin. Don’t worry if it looks as if you haven’t got nearly enough batter, as the cake will rise well as it bakes. Smooth the top and pop in the oven (this is when to make the icing, see step 5) for 45–55 minutes. When it’s ready, the cake will be set and golden brown on top, beginning to shrink away from the edges of the tin and a cake tester will come out with just a few crumbs stuck to it. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool in its tin.
  5. As soon as the cake’s in the oven, get on with the icing. Beat the butter and icing sugar together and when creamily combined, beat in the cornflour, followed by half the cream cheese. Once that’s incorporated, beat in the remaining half. Be careful at all times not to over-beat or the icing will get too runny. Starting with the grated ginger on a plate, get out a piece of kitchen roll and, moving quickly, spoon the grated ginger into the centre, bring up the edges of the paper, holding them together to form a little swag bag, and press on it over the bowl to squeeze out the intense ginger juice. Beat this into the frosting in its bowl. Cover with cling film and refrigerate.
  6. When the cake is completely cold, take the icing out of the fridge for about 20 minutes, by which time it will have softened to a still thick but spreadable consistency. Beat briefly to help this along, and make sure it’s smooth. Unclip and release the cake from its tin, unmoulding it, and sit it on a cake stand or plate. Spread the frosting on top, swirling it a little, then sprinkle the chopped walnuts and ginger on top.

You will need 1 x 20cm/8 inch springform cake tin.

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C Fan/325°F and grease the sides and line the base of your springform cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger and salt into a bowl and fork well to mix thoroughly.
  3. Beat the sugar, eggs and oil in another large bowl until they are completely mixed together, then gradually add the flour mixture, scraping the bowl you’re beating them in to rescue and incorporate any flour clinging to the edges. At this stage the mixture may seem alarmingly stiff, but the carrots will loosen it up. So, beat in the carrots and then fold in the 100g / 1 cup of prepared walnuts and 75g / 4½ tablespoons of candied stem ginger, until everything is evenly combined.
  4. Spoon and scrape into the prepared tin. Don’t worry if it looks as if you haven’t got nearly enough batter, as the cake will rise well as it bakes. Smooth the top and pop in the oven (this is when to make the icing, see step 5) for 45–55 minutes. When it’s ready, the cake will be set and golden brown on top, beginning to shrink away from the edges of the tin and a cake tester will come out with just a few crumbs stuck to it. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool in its tin.
  5. As soon as the cake’s in the oven, get on with the icing. Beat the butter and confectioners' sugar together and when creamily combined, beat in the cornstarch, followed by half the cream cheese. Once that’s incorporated, beat in the remaining half. Be careful at all times not to over-beat or the icing will get too runny. Starting with the grated ginger on a plate, get out a piece of kitchen roll and, moving quickly, spoon the grated ginger into the centre, bring up the edges of the paper, holding them together to form a little swag bag, and press on it over the bowl to squeeze out the intense ginger juice. Beat this into the frosting in its bowl. Cover with cling film and refrigerate.
  6. When the cake is completely cold, take the icing out of the fridge for about 20 minutes, by which time it will have softened to a still thick but spreadable consistency. Beat briefly to help this along, and make sure it’s smooth. Unclip and release the cake from its tin, unmoulding it, and sit it on a cake stand or plate. Spread the frosting on top, swirling it a little, then sprinkle the chopped walnuts and ginger on top.

Additional Information

MAKE-AHEAD NOTE:
The cake can be baked up to 2 days ahead. Wrap in a layer of cling film and keep in an airtight container, ice before serving. Icing can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Remove from fridge and leave at room temperature until soft enough to spread. Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 5 days.

FREEZE NOTE:
Wrap un-iced cake in a double layer of cling film and layer of foil, for up to 3 months. To defrost, unwrap and put on a wire rack at room temperature for 4-5 hours. Top with frosting before serving.

MAKE-AHEAD NOTE:
The cake can be baked up to 2 days ahead. Wrap in a layer of cling film and keep in an airtight container, ice before serving. Icing can be made a day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Remove from fridge and leave at room temperature until soft enough to spread. Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 5 days.

FREEZE NOTE:
Wrap un-iced cake in a double layer of cling film and layer of foil, for up to 3 months. To defrost, unwrap and put on a wire rack at room temperature for 4-5 hours. Top with frosting before serving.

Tell us what you think

What 50 Others have said

  • Delicious and super easy to make. I love the ginger warmth in this cake. I often have this minus the icing for a more satisfying plain affair.

    Posted by BunnyMayfair on 14th October 2020
  • First time my husband ate carrot cake and he loved it! He loved the flavour of the ginger in it. Very easy to prepare and to decorate.

    Posted by Kathyz on 1st October 2020
  • Wow! This is absolutely one of the best cakes I have ever eaten! This recipe is perfect in every way. Nothing more needs to be said!!

    Posted by joshv41680 on 18th September 2020
  • This fabulous recipe is my go to recipe for friends birthdays. If you love every day carrot cake..well...this is a gamechanger! Thanks Nigella

    Posted by Tina_lou on 22nd May 2020
  • I made a gluten free, sugar free version of this. Substituted with gluten free flour and date syrup instead. It was delicious.

    Posted by jaquelineburgess on 22nd May 2020
  • I just made this cake for a friends birthday, he loves carrot cake, but this is so much more. With the different layers of ginger flavour combined with the walnuts it is a real winner and that topping was just fabulous. Doing a first time recipe for an occasion is always a risk, but this worked beautifully. Now I want to make one for myself.

    Posted by GerryMc on 13th May 2020
  • I love this recipe sooooo much! I made it with my mum and we were so happy with the end results. It was one of the best cakes we’ve made in our entire history of baking. It didn’t rise as much as we wanted it to, but it turned out amazing. We took some over to my Narnee (My grandma) and she loved it! Thank you Nigella!

    Posted by EvieandPaula on 27th April 2020
  • This is my go to cake! I absolutely love it.

    Posted by N4Natasha on 26th February 2020
  • Delicious! Made for Australia Day party...great hit!!

    Posted by NgaioM on 27th January 2020
  • I first made this cake by following the TV series and it came out perfect. It's about time to make it again. One of my favorites.

    Posted by RickGonzalez on 16th October 2019
  • Carrot, walnut and ginger cake absolutely fabulous I can highly recommend this cake. I made this cake for an Age Care coffee morning and everybody enjoyed it asking me to make them a lot more, a perfect recipe thank you.

    Posted by Jmcla on 17th August 2019
  • Made this today. Really easy and shared it with friends, who all said it was delicious. Have to agree it was.

    Posted by YdniL on 10th May 2019
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