Halwa is the most amazing Indian dessert – it’s a carrot-based, nut ridden version of our rice pudding made with loads of condensed milk, saffron, cardamom and golden sultanas. I thought how amazing it would be to have all of the flavours that make halwa taste so fab baked into a light, spongy carrot cake.
So I tried it. And it worked a dream!
My fool proof carrot cake recipe has taken many forms in my kitchen (usually depending on what dried fruit and nuts I have in my cupboards) but this version is very special. It has a bold, aromatic taste that works really well with sweet carrots and orange zest. If you can’t get hold of cardamom powder, you can use ground cinnamon or allspice instead. Condensed milk is an essential ingredient in halwa, and here it gives a lovely shine and gooey texture to the icing, which trickles beautifully down the sides of the cake.
It’s a perfect wintery treat
For the cake
- 225g soft light brown sugar
- 225ml groundnut oil
- 3 eggs
- 225g wholemeal flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp cardamom powder
- 225g carrot, coarsely grated
- 115g sultanas
- 100g pistachios, roughly chopped (save half for the top)
- 50g flaked almonds
- 5 leaves of edible gold
For the condensed milk icing
- 250g icing sugar
- 100ml condensed milk
- the zest from 1 orange (reserve 1 tsp for the top)
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C.
Whisk up the sugar, oil and eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder and cardamom and mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated with no lumps. Next fold in the carrots, sultanas and nuts.
Pour your mixture into an 18cm square non-stick cake tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for around 45 minutes, or until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clear. Once cooked, turn the cake onto a rack and leave until cold.
While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Add the condensed milk to a mixing bowl and sieve in half the icing sugar. Whisk until there are no lumps. Sieve in the remaining icing sugar and mix again using a wooden spoon until the icing is smooth.
Once the cake has completely cooled pour the icing into the middle of the cake and carefully spread towards the edges using a spatula. Sprinkle over the reserved orange zest and chopped pistachios. Cut the cake into 9 equal squares and enjoy.
Keeps in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days.