This carrot cake recipe means a lot to me, allow me to explain why.
I had never even heard of carrot cake before arriving in Cape Town, much less eaten it. Arguably South Africa’s favourite cake, it is such a massive part of South African baking-lore you’d be forgiven for thinking that it had actually been invented here, but in spite of being on virtually every cake menu I was unconvinced. A cake made out of carrots? It just seemed wrong on so many levels. My taste-buds screamed, “Culinary heresy!” and for a long while I steadfast refused to even consider ordering this baked abomination. But like all sweet temptations, carrot cake was everywhere and it wasn’t long till I gave in and tried it for myself. Oh what a revelation, one slice and I was hooked! Moist and delicious with undertones of pecans and festive cinnamon, all offset by the sweet cream cheese frosting, I had been wrong; this was no aberration, this was baked genius.
And so my love affair with carrot cake began. I have since tried countless carrot cakes, some more delicious than others. However my absolute favourite was from the Tibetan Tea House just outside Simon’s Town. It was a long way to go for a slice of cake but it always felt worth the drive. I loved sitting on their peaceful verandah; sipping some green tea, admiring the exquisite Nepalese thangkas and tucking into the carrot cake. Uncomplicated, classic and without the unnecessary additions that seem to find their way into carrot cakes these days, this cake was a thing of simplistic beauty. We would make the journey so often for our slice of baked-Nirvana, and bought so many of those beautiful thangkas, the owner of the Tea House, Anna, kindly gave us the recipe. Sadly, shortly after she had entrusted us with her recipe, the Tibetan Tea House went vegan and the carrot cake disappeared from the menu altogether. This amazing cake was simply no more, except in my house where I still use her recipe to this very day.
We don’t drive out to the Tibetan Tea House as often anymore, however we still get to enjoy our carrot cake bliss; but now we do so from the comfort of our own verandah, sipping our own green tea, surrounded by some of the same exquisite Nepalese thangkas. I like to tell myself that Anna knew her recipe wasn’t going to survive the impending Vegan Cull and that she wanted us to continue enjoying the cake we loved so much, I like to think she was really just that nice. Buddha would be pleased.
For more Sweet Treats from The Muddled Pantry, please click here