Carrot cake with cream cheese icing

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese icing

Easter weekend!! We don't really have a huge amount planned - work as usual! We are meant to be getting some foster kittens tomorrow (!!), but they have cancelled on us so many times that I'm not letting myself get excited until they are actually here. Aside from that we might make a few photography surfaces - we are having a surface making weekend soonish with some friends, so Rich and I just want to have a sneaky wee practice first to make sure there aren't any big hurdles that we haven't thought about before we get to the real deal!

I did however make a carrot cake yesterday, which to me is the perfect easter cake! (I'm not sure why though, maybe because rabbits eat carrots? Who knows). I just went with my standard carrot cake recipe, baked into 3 six inch tins. The thing that I really like about this recipe is that it bakes very flat, so there is minimal leveling to be done once it comes to stacking time!

I also had a play around with some cream cheese icing recipes. In the past my cream cheese icing has been super floppy and soft (yummmmmm  hahah), which makes it hopeless when it comes to piping and transportation. However if you add too much butter or sugar, it loses that punchy cream cheese flavour and you end up with something that tastes more like American Buttercream. So I made three different batches, each with different ratios of cream cheese : butter : icing sugar, and I think I managed to come up with a happy medium! This recipe still has a cream cheese taste, isn't too sweet or grainy, and sets up nicely in the fridge. It also pipes well, which to me is a huge win. 

I was originally going to decorate this with a few blobs here and there, but once I got started I realised that it was far too fun piping the blobs, and I had icing to use up, so I went for it! Mini eggs somehow made their way on there too at some point. This method of decoration is super easy and crazy effective - I just filled four piping bags with different coloured buttercream. Each was fitted with a different size french piping tip, and from there I just piped blobs all over the cake, adding in mini eggs here and there! I used an ateco 866 tip, and three wilton tips - the 32, 4b, and 21, but you could really use any size here, these were just the ones that I pulled out of my decorating box first! You can't go wrong with this decorating method - it's a great way to use up excess buttercream, you don't have to worry too much about a super smooth under coat, and it would be a fun project to make with kids! Plus. Carrot cake and cream cheese. Can't go wrong really. 

A few wee things: 

  • I made this in 3 6-inch cake tins. I totally understand that not everyone will have these, so you could also make it in two 8-inch tins, or just do it all in one 10-inch tin and slice it in half before filling! Just ensure that you adjust the cooking time accordingly if you make it in a larger tin - approx 45 minutes for 8-inch tins, and 50-60 minutes for a 10-inch. Check it with a skewer in the centre of the cake - you want it to come out clean.
  • The blobs use up a fair amount of buttercream. If you were just wanting to do a standard carrot cake with cream cheese icing and not have the blobs, I have included two quantities of ingredients down below. It would also look nice with just a super rustic coat of icing, and topped with some easter eggs. 
  • I found that the trick to a nice firm cream cheese icing which was best for piping was to use cold cream cheese, and butter that is only just at room temperature, to make sure that it stays nice and firm. I also popped it in the fridge while I was waiting for the crumb coat of the cake to chill down, and just gave it a good stir before using it again. If at any time you find it is getting too soft, just return it to the fridge for 10-15 minutes. The icing in the piping bags was at room temp for well over two hours, along with being handled, and still held its shape well though, so you should be fine!


Carrot cake with cream cheese icing
- Makes one six inch, three layered cake -

Carrot Cake recipe from Annabel Langbein

Carrot Cake
2 cups (500g) raw sugar
1 cup (250ml) neutral oil such as canola
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (140g) wholemeal flour
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
3 cups (360g, approx 3 medium carrots) grated carrot

Cream cheese Icing

Quantities needed for decorating without "blobs"
225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature for 30 minutes
450g (16oz) full-fat cream cheese, cold
900g (7 1/4 cups, 2 lbs) Icing sugar
Juice of one Lemon

Quantities needed if decorating with "blobs"
340g (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature for 30 minutes
675g (24oz) full-fat cream cheese, cold
1.35kg (10 3/4 cups, 3 lbs) icing sugar
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons

To decorate
Mini eggs or other easter eggs (optional)





Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Grease and flour 3 6-inch cake tins. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer or with an electric beater, mix together the sugar, eggs and oil until well combined. Sift in the flour, baking powder, salt and spices, and mix on low for 1-2 minutes until combined. Add carrot, and mix well.

Divide the mixture between the three tins. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the centre of the cake bounces back when lightly pressed, and a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the cake tins for 15 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely. If you are making ahead, wrap well in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese on high until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add icing sugar, and mix on low to combine. Turn the mixer to high and beat for another 3-4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add lemon juice and beat until well combined. Store in the fridge until ready to use, and either beat again with a mixer, or mix well with a spatula before using.


Level cakes if necessary. Place the first layer of cake on a rotating cake turntable or cake stand. Spread with a layer of cream cheese icing, and smooth down with an offset spatula. Repeat with the next two layers. Spread icing evenly over the top and sides of the cake using an offset spatula, smoothing the top first, then the sides with a bench or icing scraper. Level off the top using the edge of the scraper, or an offset spatula. Ensure that the cake is evenly coated with a smooth layer of icing. Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. 

Divide the remaining buttercream between four bowls. Using a small amount of gel food colouring, tint the buttercream your desired colours, leaving one white. Place into four piping bags, fitted with different sized french piping tips. 

Pipe 'blobs' of buttercream over the surface of the cake - start with a few big blobs of one colour, and then go in with each colour to fill in the gaps. Continue until the sides and top of the cake are covered. Add easter eggs where you see fit. 

Rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.


Espresso Honey S'mores


S'mores aren't really a thing in New Zealand. We don't have graham crackers, and our marshmallows don't go anywhere near as melty as the American ones. So our versions were always kinda crappy, but still delicious and sugar coma inducing nonetheless. Whenever we went on holiday to the States, they always seemed like a huge treat. 

Over the last year or so I have made my own marshmallow a few times. I am always super surprised at how it becomes this bouncy pillow of squishy amazingness, with the ability to totally destroy your kitchen (Trust me on this - never attempt to put marshmallow in a piping bag without some sort of aid. I found it in my ear like, a week later, and had to wipe down 3 of my 4 kitchen walls). However, I have managed to develop a couple of coping strategies that makes marshmallows a much less stressful situation than they used to be, so now I make them on the regular! The super fun bit is that you can flavour them with anything that is liquid / soluble in liquid! 

These S'mores were a product of another amazing baking day with my friend / NYC Mum Jill! We always have the best time ever - and we are slowly getting more productive as the days go on, which can likely be attributed to the fact that the days are getting longer, which prolongs the race to get the last few shots before the light fades. However, Jill just got a new PUPPY who is the cutest ever, so productivity levels are TBC for the near future I think, which I'm totally fine with, because PUPPY.

We were both lucky enough to have been sent some beautiful patterned rolling pins from our friends over at Propped, so we wanted to come up with something which would help show them off. We used a graham cracker recipe from Dorie Greenspan's amazing book, riffing on it slightly and adding espresso to give the crackers a deeper flavour profile. We paired them with some honey marshmallows, drizzled them in dark chocolate, and there we were! And oh my goodness. The flavours compliment each other perfectly - there is a little honey in the graham crackers, accentuated by the lovely honey flavour in the marshmallow, and the dark chocolate ties it all together. 100% would make again. (100% have made again, and it's only been a week since we made these!) The rolling pins also did an amazing job at imprinting the cookies with their pattern - we carefully rolled the pin over the dough just before placing into the freezer.

A few wee things: 

  • We added espresso to the crackers - if you aren't a coffee person, simply skip the coffee, and up the cinnamon to 1 teaspoon
  • Marshmallow can be super sticky and messy if you let it. A good way to avoid this is to have everything ready to go before you start - have your tin greased, and some "marshmallow dust", which is equal parts icing sugar and corn starch, ready for dusting.
  • A lightly oiled spatula will be your best friend when you are smoothing down the marshmallow. Once it is fairly flat, you can also get in there with wet fingers and finish off the smoothing. 
  • When you cut the marshmallow, dust the knife with marshmallow dust between cuts to help reduce stickiness.
  • Take care to not over whip your marshmallow. 5-7 minutes seems to be the sweet spot!
  • You need a stand mixer for the marshmallows, because they tend to take some heavy whipping. A candy thermometer is also super important. I use this one, which is perfect for me because it has an alarm on it! A scale will also be handy - measuring volume of honey sucks. Weighing it is way easier. Trust me. 
  • We made the marshmallow in these photos in a 9" x 9" tin, however I re-tested with a 9" x 13" and found that it made a much more manageable size when it comes to eating them!




Espresso and Honey S'mores
- Makes approximately 20 S'mores -

Marshmallows adapted from Bravetart, Graham crackers adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Honey Marshmallows
21g (0.75oz, or 3 packets) gelatine
114g (4 oz, 114ml) cold water,
155g Liquid honey
114g (4oz, 114ml) water
400g (14oz) sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla paste, or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean

Marshmallow "Dust"
1/2 cup (65g) powdered sugar
1/2 cup (65g) Corn Starch

Espresso Graham Crackers
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
1/4 cup (100g) liquid honey
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup (140g) Whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups (350g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
2 Tbsp freshly ground coffee
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (150g) packed brown sugar
7 Tbsp (100g) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

150g Good quality dark chocolate, melted





Grease a 9" x 13" baking tin with neutral oil or butter. Combine the powdered sugar and corn starch and set aside. This is your "Marshmallow dust".

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cold water and gelatine. Mix well with a fork, and leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup. 

In a medium pot, combine the water, honey, vanilla, and sugar. Heat over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally. Heat until the syrup reaches 240˚f / 120˚c, then remove from the heat and leave to cool to 210˚f / 100˚c.

Turn the mixer on to medium, and mix for a few seconds to help break up the bloomed gelatin. With the mixer running, VERY carefully pour the hot sugar syrup into the mixer. Turn the speed up to high, and whip for 5-7 minutes, until the marshmallow has doubled in volume, has turned white, and holds somewhat of a peak when you stop the mixer and lift out the whisk. 

Scrape the marshmallow into the prepared tin using a lightly oiled rubber spatula. Smooth the surface using an oiled offset spatula, or back of a spoon. Use wet fingers to help the smoothing process if needed. Dust liberally with the marshmallow dust. Allow to cure for 3-4 hours.

Carefully turn out onto a board, and dust the entire surface with the powdered sugar and corn starch mix. Using a sharp knife dusted with marshmallow dust, cut into 2" x 3" pieces (or the same size as you have made your crackers). Lightly dust the cut surfaces of the marshmallow with the marshmallow dust to help avoid them sticking together.


Combine the milk, honey and vanilla in a small jug.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, coffee, salt, and brown sugar. Pulse briefly to combine. 

Add the butter to the food processor, and pulse until the mixture has a crumbly texture. Slowly add the milk and honey mixture, pulsing to combine. Continue to pulse until a dough comes together that balls around the blade of a food processor. 

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and divide in two. Wrap up one half of the dough while you work with the second half. 

Roll the first half of the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper, until it is very thin, approximately 1/8 inch, or 3mm (Roll thinner than you think, as the crackers will rise in the oven). If you are creating a pattern on the dough, peel off the top layer of parchment, carefully roll the patterned rolling pin over the surface of the dough, then replace the parchment sheet. Place the dough, still between the parchment sheets, on a baking tray, and transfer to the freezer. Repeat with the second half of the dough, and transfer to the freezer. Freeze for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Remove the first sheet of dough from the freezer, and peel off the top layer of parchment. Using a ruler and a pastry wheel or knife, cut the cookies into a grid of 2" x 3" rectangles, either re-rolling scraps, or leaving them in place to snack on later. Leave the dough as one piece rather than separating the cookies - you will do this once they come out of the oven. Repeat the cutting process with the second tray, and store in the freezer while the first tray bakes. (Unless your oven can take two trays of cookies at once, you lucky dog)

Transfer the cut dough, on the parchment, to a baking tray. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until the cookies are a deep golden brown colour. Remove from the oven, sit for 5 minutes, then go over the cut lines with a pastry wheel or sharp knife. Leave to cool completely before breaking into individual crackers. Repeat with the second tray.


Spread a graham cracker with melted chocolate. Place a marshmallow on top, and top with a second graham cracker. Serve immediately. Marshmallows can be toasted with a blow torch if desired! Store leftover crackers and marshmallows individually, and assemble more s'mores as needed.


Roast butternut, goat cheese, brown butter, and sage pizza


It FINALLY feels like spring! This has been such a long time coming! The days are definitely getting longer - the way that I judge that is by what time the sun ends up shining in my eyes at spin class. A few months ago it was toward the end of the class, and now it's sunny when I leave the house in the morning! The best. I think we have approximately 4 weeks before it gets gross and sweaty. But I am going to MAKE the most of them! I am also hanging out for some form of fruit that's not last year's gross apples and pears. Each week I stalk the greenmarket app. The day rhubarb pops up is going to be an awesome day.

There are a few exciting things coming up! The first is that I am going to Alabama next weekend! I am going to meet one of my bestest Insta-friends Kate, IRL. I am SO EXCITED. Mainly because she has insanely cute kids (who likely won't be able to understand a word I say, damn accent), and we can do all of the baking! Next up is that it is kitten season, very very soon! I recently signed up to foster kittens, and we are waiting on a nursing mama and her three babies! Teeny teeny babies. Hopefully they aren't toooo naughty - I am anticipating having to fence off my prop shelf. But still. Kittens!! 

Something else that I am always, always excited for is pizza. We don't eat a huge amount of meat, so we are always looking for fun riffs on meat-free pizza! This is probably my favourite to date. You really can't beat Roast butternut, sage, and brown butter. This time I paired it with soft roasted garlic spread over the base, and tangy goat's cheese to help cut through the butter. And it's the best. It's a solid member of the pizza night line up, and a really nice change from mozzarella and tomato sauce. Plus I'm not sure about you, but I really can't go past crispy sage leaves. There's really something about them that gets me going. 

I have been using a pizza stone to make my pizza for the last year or so. And I tell you what, it makes such a massive, massive difference. If you can make the investment, I highly recommend it. Mine was fairly inexpensive, and it has been a total game changer. It has even travelled with me to a couple of pizza nights! The best.  I like to preheat mine in the oven for an hour or so. It means that as soon as the dough hits it, it begins to cook, which results in some serious crispy bottom goodness. I usually take the stone out of the oven and make the pizza directly on it. We do own a pizza peel, but I honestly have managed to throw my pizza at the back of the oven more times than I have managed to neatly slide the pizza onto the stone. We did just get a baking steel though which is a big rectangle as opposed to my round stone, so I will see if we can have more luck with that! Because cleaning melted cheese off the bottom of a 500 degree oven isn't fun. Trust me. 

Real talk: I use store-bought dough to make my pizza. I get the stuff that comes in a bag, and you just have to give it it's second rise before you use it. I have made my own a couple of times, which always turns out great, but the last few times we have had pizza night we have had about 8 people around, and it's just not feasible for me to make pizza dough for that many people. So if you can find the bagged dough (I love the version that whole foods does), then by all means go for it! Otherwise, this recipe is super simple and easy, and makes enough for two pizzas.



Roasted butternut, brown butter, and sage pizza
- Makes one 12-inch pizza -

1 lb of fresh pizza dough, either store-bought or home-made, risen and ready to roll
1 medium butternut, peeled, deseeded and cut into cubes
2 heads garlic
200g (7 oz) chevré or feta cheese
1 medium bunch fresh sage
1 stick (113g) salted butter


Preheat oven to 400˚f / 200˚c. If using, place a pizza stone or baking steel on the lower shelf of the oven to pre-heat. Place the diced butternut on a baking sheet, and coat lightly with olive oil. Cut the tops off of the garlic heads, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and wrap in foil and place on the baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the butternut is soft and starting to caramelise lightly on the edges, and the garlic is very soft.  Remove from the oven and set aside. 

Increase the oven temperature to 500˚f / 260˚c. On a surface lightly dusted with semolina or flour, roll out the pizza dough to a 12 inch (30cm) circle. Dust lightly with semolina or flour to help prevent sticking. 

Remove the preheated pizza stone from the oven, and, working quickly, carefully place the dough round on it. If you are using a baking steel or large stone, place the dough on a piece of parchment paper on a pizza steel. Alternatively, place the dough round on a parchment-lined baking tray. 

Squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves on to the pizza dough, and spread out using a knife or offset spatula. Evenly distribute the roast butternut over the surface of the pizza, followed by crumbled chevré or feta cheese. 

Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, checking after 10, until the crust is golden brown and starting to bubble. You may need to increase the cooking time slightly if you are using a baking tray rather than a pizza stone. 

While the pizza is cooking, prepare the brown butter and sage. Melt the butter in a medium pot over high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the sage leaves. Continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter is a deep golden brown and smells nutty, and the sage leaves are crispy. 

Remove pizza from the oven and top immediately with the sage brown butter (you may not need all of the brown butter, reserve some and add later if it needs a little more). Slice and serve.