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More Nigella recipes

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

Yields: 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:
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:
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:
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:
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 62 Others have said

  • Absolute favourite, I use glace ginger from Sainsburys in the cake and crystallised on top.

    Posted by Shelley64 on 4th May 2022
  • Absolutely amazing cake, one of the best I've ever baked! Lovely and moist and rose very well. I used stem ginger instead of crystallised and dark brown soft sugar instead of light brown. Will definitely be baking this again soon!

    Posted by baking20 on 9th April 2022
  • What an amazing recipe as always Nigella! And as ever they are versatile and adaptable. For this one, I almost halved the sugar quantity in the batter, as the ginger I found was candied and covered in sugar granules. Additionally, the ginger flavour was very strong so my cream cheese frosting was lemon - juice and zest of half a lemon. Also substituted walnuts for almonds.

    Posted by TheTea on 28th February 2022
  • This cake replaced Frog Commissary's as our absolute favorite carrot cake. Easy and incredibly delicious!

    There's enough frosting to split the cake into 2 levels and fill it too, if you like the more traditional look.

    Posted by Shelleykv on 27th February 2022
  • Loved this cake. Very easy to make and a lovely twist on a carrot cake. Will make again.

    Posted by EveSm on 17th January 2022
  • Just the best carrot cake recipe ever. With all the chopping of the ingredients it takes a little longer to prepare, but it’s a winner in our house. Well worth the effort.

    Posted by Wozzie on 15th December 2021
  • I first saw this on an episode of At My Table and I knew that I wanted to try it. It was superb! The only difference is I used cashews instead of walnuts. I'm definitely making this again and yes, I've shared the recipe with my friends too!

    Posted by LeslieDelaTorre on 15th November 2021
  • I've never cooked before, as I'm a 44 year old Irish male and, either our Mummies, or our wives cook things like this for us - normally. Anyway, it has come out very well and I salute Nigella for her fine recepie. The ginger in the cake is fiery and packs punch and it will really compliment my partner's personality as she's a firey redhead. Thanks so very much.

    Posted by Pobnew on 14th November 2021
  • This IS my partner’s birthday cake, year after year. It somehow manages the unimaginable by pleasing both of us (each of us have a super sweet tooth) AND his parents, who think that sweetened lingonberry icecream is delightful (I shudder).

    Such a perfect, elegant, and reliable cake - it works exactly as written, without substitution, though every year I’m tempted to replace the candied ginger as I always struggle to find it here in Sweden (WHY?!), I simply can’t - and it’s well worth the runaround for this terrific cake. It does take closer to the 55 minutes in my (new) oven.

    Posted by Mattheworbit on 7th October 2021
  • I absolutely LOVE this carrot cake! I swapped out the ginger for cinnamon (as I don't react well to ginger) and used only 50g of cream cheese in the frosting (with a bit more sugar). I decide to make cupcakes instead of one big cake... they came out so well!

    Posted by Rhea746 on 16th June 2021
  • My daughter who doesnt like cakes and my son in law who does, both adore this cake which I make, now, for every family occasion.

    Posted by 123aze on 31st May 2021
  • I’ve tried several carrot cakes recipes including one made in bakery class. Nigella’s recipe trumps all of my past carrot cakes! Love love love the ginger warmth in the cake and icing, the gingery taste is enhanced even further when eaten the following day!

    Posted by jules_june on 1st March 2021
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