Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Pistachios

"And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course." Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.

One of my besties is getting married this weekend. 

She moved, with her coffee machine and barely enough shoes, to take a teaching post in the middle of Australia a bit over two years ago. I didn't tell her, because she's not the huggy type, but I was pretty proud of her at the time. I knew it would be an incredible experience, and that she would learn loads and come back possibly changed. She certainly came back wiser and emotionally stronger for having lived and taught in such a remote community. But she also came back with a man. A man with a liking for craft beer who cooks her pasta from scratch with the attachment on his Kitchenaid. He also comes with the added benefit, being a fellow teacher, of matching holidays and looking a lot (like, really a lot) like Tim Rogers. They are now home owners and newly minted Novocastrians and, holy moly, about to get hitched!

I am looking immensely forward to this wedding. There is a group of us who hark back to school days, and I know they are too. We will charge our glasses to our friend and her husband, our new friend God help him, remembering days of swilling a far lesser vintage on the rooftop of a certain Sydney boarding school. 

I kind of nagged her into letting me make her wedding cake, so in honour of passion pop, I am layering the top sponge tier with passionfruit curd (she thinks it's because they're abundant at the moment). The bottom tier will be a traditional fruit cake, thankfully made by the groom's mum, as I haven't made a single one in my life. Shhhh! And the middle tier will be carrot cake with orange cream cheese frosting. 

I made a test carrot cake for Mr LP's birthday recently, using my favourite recipe with pecans and raisins, which my Mum has been asking me to post here for a while. This is the cake in the pictures. I thought it was fairly good but as usual I have tweaked here and there, added some crushed pineapple on good advice and a bit of shredded coconut, and the recipe below is the result.

I hope it's a cake to remember and that it adds an extra layer of happy to a brilliant day.

Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Pistachios
(Serves 12-16)

3 cups self raising flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
1.5 teaspoons each of ground cinnamon and ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups sunflower oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
500g grated carrots (about 5)
200ml crushed pineapple
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Cream Cheese Frosting:
100g unsalted butter, softened
500g cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest

Candied Pistachios:
1/2 cup pistachio nuts
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 170C.
Grease and line the base and sides of a 10 inch cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
Place the flour, baking powder, spices and sugar into a large bowl and mix thoroughly to combine.
Whisk together the eggs, oil and vanilla in a bowl and stir into the flour mixture.
Add carrots, pecans and raisins and stir until just combined.
Pour into prepared tin and bake for 50-60 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
Cool in tin at least 30 mins before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
To frost the cake, carefully cut it in half using a bread knife. 
For frosting, place all ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and fluffy. Spread a layer of frosting on bottom half of cake. Top with the other half and then cover the cake in remaining frosting, smoothing with a pallet knife or spatula as you go. 
Scatter the candied pistachios on top and serve. 
* Because it was a special occasion, I fancied Mr LP's cake up a little more with vanilla meringues, crushed crystallised violets, fresh figs and bright Gerberas. 

Candied Pistachios:
Place all ingredients in a frypan, toss together, and cook over medium heat for about 5-6 mins, jostling occasionally until caramelised. Pour onto a baking tray lined with non stick baking paper and leave to set. When cooled and hard, break or chop into pieces.


A couple of snaps from the day. Congrats Katie and Michael!

(Photos by Siobhan Rogers)


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