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Recipe: Briony May’s caramel carrot cake

The nights are drawing in and there’s a chill in the air: comfort food is in order. Carrots are in season all year and my recipe this month – my signature carrot cake, with an autumnal twist – takes full advantage of that. To celebrate Bonfire Night I have added some crunchy cinder toffee with a caramel drip to finish it off. I am not going to lie, you will want to eat more than just the one slice!

Comforting Caramel Carrot Cake

Cake ingredients:
320g carrots, grated
100g walnuts, chopped
100g raisins
300g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp salt
300ml vegetable oil
5 medium eggs
1 tsp orange zest
Juice of half an orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g golden caster sugar
200g light brown sugar

250g unsalted butter, softened
500g icing sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
Splash of milk to loosen

Caramel sauce:
100g soft light brown sugar
30g unsalted butter
60ml single cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Cinder toffee:
250g caster sugar
115g golden syrup
50ml water
7g bicarbonate of soda

• Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line three 6-inch tins.
• In a bowl, add the oil, eggs, zest, juice, vanilla extract and sugars. Mix until combined.
• In another bowl, add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and salt. Mix until combined.
• Tip flour mixture into oil mixture. Mix. Add carrots, walnuts and raisins. Mix. Divide equally into tins.
• Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. Then leave to cool.
• Make the caramel sauce. Place all ingredients into a pan and whisk constantly for about five minutes until thickened.
• Make the icing. Beat butter in stand mixer until light and smooth. Sift icing sugar and mixed spice into bowl. Add icing sugar in 2 batches. Mix well each time. Add splash of milk to loosen icing.
• Place icing into large piping bag (you can do this with a palette knife instead if you don’t have piping bags). Cut a 2cm hole in piping bag. Place one cake on a plate. Pipe on icing. Level with palette knife. Put next cake on. Repeat.
• Pipe icing around side of cake and on top. Smooth with palette knife or cake scraper. Place remaining icing in piping bag with a star nozzle. Set aside.
• Make the cinder toffee. Place sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place sugar, golden syrup and water in a pan. Heat without stirring until it comes to the boil then continue to heat until it reaches 150°C on a thermometer. Remove from the heat and immediately add bicarbonate of soda – it will bubble up a lot! Mix for 30 seconds. Pour onto parchment paper. Leave to set.
• Pour caramel sauce on top of cake and tease it over the edges with a teaspoon to create drips down the side. Pipe stars around the top of the cake then break up cinder toffee into chunks and sprinkle over the icing.

Follow Briony May Williams on Twitter and Instagram: @brionymaybakes. Illustration by Cat Faulkner; @catherinedoart