Buttermilk carrot cake with spiced caramel

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 6 - 8 people

If you lean more towards ginger than cinnamon, adjust the spice quantities to your taste.

  • 580 gm caster sugar
  • 300 gm butter, coarsely chopped
  • 300 gm coarsely grated carrot (about 2 large carrots)
  • 20 Dutch carrots, trimmed, scrubbed and halved lengthways
  • 120 ml pouring cream
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp each ground ginger and finely grated nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 330 gm plain flour
  • 3¼ tsp baking powder
  • 150 ml buttermilk
  • Finely grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  •  
  • Pecan crumble
  • 20 gm brown sugar
  • 10 gm plain flour
  • 10 gm butter
  • 45 gm pecans, coarsely chopped
01   Preheat oven to 180C. Stir 180gm sugar and 40ml water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until evenly caramel. Carefully add 260gm butter (hot caramel will spit), stir to combine, then add grated carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelised (15-20 minutes). Cool to room temperature.
02   Stir 220gm caster sugar and 50ml water in a frying pan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until dark caramel (5-6 minutes). Carefully add remaining butter and 50ml water (be careful, hot caramel will spit) and stir until smooth. Add Dutch carrots and cook until just tender (4-5 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Add cream and half the spices to pan and whisk to combine. Set aside and warm over low heat just before serving.
03   For pecan crumble, rub sugar, flour and butter in a small bowl to combine, add pecans and set aside.
04   Whisk eggs, yolk and remaining sugar in an electric mixer until fluffy and pale (2-3 minutes). Sieve in flour, baking powder and remaining spices, fold to combine, then fold in buttermilk, rinds and grated carrot. Spoon into a 22cm-diameter cake tin, buttered and lined with baking paper, smooth top, and arrange Dutch carrots on top. Scatter with pecan crumble and bake until a skewer withdraws clean (1-1¼ hours). Cool for 15 minutes in tin then serve with warm spiced caramel.

Note When you're making caramel, stir water and sugar over heat until sugar dissolves, then let mixture boil without stirring but swirling the pan so the caramel cooks and colours evenly, brushing down the sides with a pastry brush to remove sugar crystals.

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