This isn’t a post in which I share a new recipe; but one in which I share an idea of how to decorate a Carrot Cake for a special occasion. As I was saying to my friend earlier, Carrot Cake *is* beautiful with swirls of Cream Cheese Frosting and some sprinkled nuts on top, but sometimes you want one of your favourite, everyday cakes to be a bit more celebratory.
I wanted to show that it is possible to do that without training to be a pastry chef first.
Firstly, let me explain that I don’t use walnuts in my carrot cake, but prefer pecans. I immediately thought about how I could use the pecans on the top of the finished cake by dusting them with gold and bronze lustre and adding small pieces of edible gold leaf to others.
The cake also contains desiccated coconut, so I felt that using larger shavings of coconut on top would hint at the ingredients inside and add a different texture. After that, it was a case of raiding my box of sprinkles and using all the gold and bronze ones in various sizes. I also happened to have caramel and orange “chocolate” shavings; the kind you find in the sprinkles and ice-cream toppings section in the supermarket.
The pattern on top of the smoothed cream cheese frosting is made using a stencil that came with the last Peggy Porschen book that I bought, entitled Love Layer Cakes. I simply sprinkled cinnamon through a tea strainer to create this look, which I think is very effective.
And whilst on the subject of cream cheese frosting, or icing, I have a confession to make. I am not prone to nervousness in the kitchen, least of all when I am baking (unless I have a saucepan of bubbling sugar!) but I have grown kind of apprehensive about making and using cream cheese frosting over the years. How many times have you made it and then gone a step too far and it has turned from a luscious, rich and thick icing to a pool of watery mess? It has happened to me too many times and it makes me nervous. I tried Peggy Porschen’s recipe (again, found in Love Layer Cakes) this time and it worked a treat. It wasn’t as cheese flavoured as I am used to but it was a blessing to have an icing that held up to the demands of decorating a large, 9″ carrot cake that had a distance to travel.
So, if you want to make your regular cake a little bit more glamorous but don’t want to worry about fondant icing or modelling shapes to decorate it with, then think about what’s inside and take it from there. Is there an ingredient that can by showcased on the top? Have you looked in the baking aisle in the supermarket to see what new sprinkles they have? Walk down the boxed chocolate aisle and consider flavoured chocolate flute shapes or variants of After Eight Mints. And Lindt do a great range of ball shaped chocolates in several flavours that can be dusted with edible lustre to tie in with a colour and taste theme.
Have fun with it: I always do when I am planning how to decorate a cake, and enjoy carefully placing them on the top of the cake once all the baking and icing is complete.