Fiona Cairns’ Carrot pecan cake with maple syrup and orange buttercream recipe

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serves: 10
Skill: medium
Prep: 20 min
Cooking: 1 hr
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  • Fiona Cairns says: ‘This moist cake rose to prominence in the 1970s and remains hugely popular. The flavours in the buttercream are a wonderful complement.’


    • 175ml sunflower oil, plus more for the tin
    • 60g pecan nuts, chopped
    • 200g self-raising flour
    • 1/ 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    • 1/ 2 tsp baking powder
    • pinch of salt
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
    • 175g light muscovado sugar
    • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 250g carrot, finely grated
    • zest of 1 orange, finely grated
    • 50g unsweetened desiccated coconut
    • Buttercream
    • 40g pecan nuts, chopped
    • 80g unsalted butter
    • 60g icing sugar, sifted
    • 2 tbsp maple syrup
    • 150g unsalted cream cheese
    • juice of 1 orange


    • Preheat the oven to 160ºC/fan 150ºC/325ºF/gas mark 3.

    • Oil a 23cm diameter, 7.5cm deep, round tin and line the base with baking parchment.

    • Scatter the pecans – both for cake and buttercream – on to a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 5–10 minutes, shaking once and watching carefully so they don’t burn, then measure out, separate and set aside the amounts needed for the cake and buttercream.

    • Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl. In an electric mixer – or in another large mixing bowl with a handheld electric whisk – slowly beat together the oil and sugar for a minute or so until smooth, then gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Using a large spoon, gently fold in the carrot, zest, pecan nuts and coconut then, finally, the flour mixture.

    • Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to become completely cold.

    • Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Beat the butter, icing sugar and maple syrup until really light and fluffy (this could take 5 minutes). In another bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth, then fold it into the butter mixture. Finally, add the orange juice. Spread over the top of the cake and scatter with the pecan nuts.

    Top tip for making Fiona Cairns’ Carrot pecan cake with maple syrup and orange buttercream

    Fiona says: 'Don't be tempted to open the oven door to peep at the cake too often. Leave this until the final 5-10 mins. If you keep opening the door at the start, you will affect the rise and texture of the cake.'

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