Wednesday 20 May 2009

Carrot Cake and Beer

Cake and beer?! Cut the tomfoolery. Who wants a slice of cake with their beer? The two are so far opposed that it seems slightly ridiculous. You’ll want a cup a tea with that, you might shout. Well not me, naturally. I’ve made cupcakes with stout here and now I’m pairing beer with carrot cake, which is one of my favourite cakes ever, ever, ever.

I used to be all ‘eurgh’ about carrot cake during the years when I thought vegetables were evil (0 through 17, yeah honestly, even at 17 I didn’t like vegetables?!) but now it’s my birthday cake of choice. Last birthday I was eating it and had a beer on the go at the same time (I had a beer in my hand most of the day, naturally) and thought I’d see if it worked. And it was bloody amazing. I’ve been working on my cake recipe since (this is the best yet, all stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth gorgeous), trying it with a few different beers to see how it matches up and there are some great pairings.

The beer I had the first time up was Sam Smith’s Yorkshire Stingo. An 8% strong ale aged in oak. It’s rich and full flavoured, fruity and complex, chewy, full of toffee and roasted oranges and has a great creaminess from the barrel aging. And it just worked so well with the cake. My next experiment was with an IPA. BrewDog’s Chaos Theory stepped up (hence the bottle cap in the picture which came from this). The earthy spice and orange flavours in both the beer and the cake sing the same song while the big-hitting hops wipe the palate clear of all the thick cake texture. Awesome. Big, fresh and juicy IPAs, with lots of sweetness and lots of refreshing hops and their biting bitterness, are also brilliant. Ruination IPA should be great here or Meantime’s IPA, which would come from an earthier angle. I also think a decent barley wine would be great - Fuller’s Golden Pride, Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot, Anchor’s Old Foghorn. And maybe some strong stouts too, stouts with notable hop presence - Great Divide’s Yeti or BrewDog’s Coffee Imperial Stout.

Here she is. My wicked carrot cake recipe, which is delicious with or without the icing and will last brilliantly for a few days.

  • 300g grated carrots (about 4 really big ones)
  • 150g dark sugar
  • 150ml light/plain oil
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon each of bicarbonate of soda and baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon each of nutmeg, ginger, turmeric and salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g chopped pineapple (tinned is fine)
  • Zest of one orange and juice of half

    For the icing:
  • 1 tub soft cream cheese
  • Juice of half an orange and zest of a whole orange
  • 50g icing sugar

Turn oven to 180C and butter a large cake tin. Mix all the dry ingredients together then add the eggs gradually. Stir in the grated carrot (squeeze out most of the liquid first) and pineapple and then add the oil and the fresh orange juice. Pour in to the cake tin and bake for around 60 minutes (or until a knife comes out ‘clean’ from the centre – it’s a very moist cake so just be patient and let it do its thing).

For the icing just mix all the ingredients together, adding more sugar if you want and then spread out over the top of the cooled cake. This is one juicy, moist and stodgy devil of a cake and I love it. And here’s something controversial… you don’t have to have it with a beer - I’m not completely beer-and-food-mental – a cup of tea really is a great choice too (I’m thinking we need a builders’ tea mild…).

Do you have any good cake and beer combos?


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  2. I experimented with Chimay Red and a really heavy, spicy fruit cake. Worked like a charm, all that sweet spicy, fruity, nutty flavour complimenting the cake really well.

    Innis and Gunn with shortbread works too. The buttery, creamy mouthfeel and the toffee and vanilla in the beer are great with the rich, buttery shortbread.

  3. I've had the Cask Strength I&G with creme brulee and shortbread before and it was a good match. And I can definitely see the Chimay and fruit cake pairing working well.

    I want cake now!