Amanda Brooks’ culinary tips & recipe for her favourite Carrot Cake

In the second of our interviews with Amanda Brooks, author of Farm from Home, she reveals her top tips for the kitchen.  (If you missed our first interview in which Brooks revealed her interiors style rules, you can find it here).  She also shares with us the recipe for one of her favourite puddings – a Carrot Cake with Ginger Mascarpone Icing.

Which are your 3 larder essentials? 

Anchovies, chickpeas and chilling jam.

Which are your 3 top cookbooks? 

River Cafe, Violet Bakery and Tamasin’s Kitchen Bible.

Which is your favourite restaurant in London?

The River Cafe. I know it’s a cliché to say that but it really is the best. 

Which chef would cook your dream meal? 

Yotam Ottolenghi. 

What do you always pack for a picnic? 

Very English – pork pies, scotch eggs and shortbread. 

Which is your favourite bakery in London? 

Violet Bakery, founded by my American friend Clare Ptak. (Lemon drizzle cake from the bakery below)

What is the best cooking tip you’ve ever been told? 

Don’t put olive oil in the pasta pot. It makes the pasta absorb less sauce. 

Which is your favourite recipe in your book and why? 

Chicken tagine with baked rice is the one I use most often. 

Who is your favourite ‘foodie’ on Instagram? 

@lailacooks

Aga or induction/gas hob?

Gas hob LaCanche. 

Which is your favourite cake and what is the recipe?

My mom gave me my first Ina Garten Barefoot Contessa book for Christmas a few years ago, and I’ve been using it to learn how to bake. I tend to like old-school cake recipes, so I wasn’t sure about the Ginger Mascarpone Frosting in lieu of the usual straightforward cream cheese frosting for my Easter Carrot Cake. I also don’t love raisins, so I omit them even though Ina’s recipe calls for them. This is the best Carrot Cake I have ever eaten, and it has become a unanimous hit with guests as well. I hope you like it as much as we do.

Carrot Cake with Ginger Mascarpone Frosting

(Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof)

Serves 8–10

Cake:

2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/3 cups vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

1 pound carrots, grated

1 cup chopped walnuts

 

Frosting:

12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese

4 ounces cream cheese

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger (not in syrup)

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease two round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, and grease again.

Mix together the sugar, oil, and eggs with an electric mixer on medium-high for 2 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 cups of flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ones.

In a medium bowl, toss together the carrots, walnuts, and 1 tablespoon of flour. Stir into the batter with a rubber spatula. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 10 minutes, lower the heat to 350F and bake for 30–35 minutes more, until an inserted toothpick (or a fork) comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes, turn out onto a baking rack, and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: With an electric mixer, beat together the mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla for about 1 minute, until light and fluffy. Add the crystallized ginger and salt, and beat for 30 seconds more.

Frost the cakes and serve.

— Francesca
13th June 2018