Carrot and Cranberry Cake with Saffron Cream Cheese Icing

I’m tickled pink today.

It’s not the impending “ughness” of Valentine’s Day, it’s not a new romance, it’s not anything in particular. I’m just happy because I baked.


I’m still in my PJs. I woke up this morning and took on an unknown feat in my kitchen. I just finished washing the last bowl. I gotsta get me a kitchen fairy!
This is my first carrot cake, but yet, I was feeling adventurous. There’s no fun in doing anything strictly by the book, even though successful baking often hinges on that principle.

I used SJA de Villiers’ recipe from Kook en Geniet (strictly, I’ve got “Cook and Enjoy” but I just feel like a soutie saying that). That tannie knew how to cook and she was an expert recipe writer, something many good chefs have yet to master. It’s also something very integral to the success of a recipe. It’s so much more than a list of ingredients and an oven temperature…

Naturally though, I needed to put my own spin on things.

So here is my adjusted version of Kook en Geniet‘s Carrot Cake.


Carrot and Cranberry Cake with Saffron Cream Cheese Icing

2 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1tsp salt
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup oil
1 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup muscovado sugar
a splash of water
4 eggs, whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecan nuts
2 cups grated carrot
1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup soft butter
300g icing sugar
125g hard cream cheese (the block)
1/2 tsp saffron
vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line cake tins (I used one cake tin and one muffin pan).
Sift together flour, spice, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, cream sugar, butter, oil and water until light and creamy. Mine stayed quite fluid. Add eggs and extract and mix. Fold in dry ingredients, then fold in nuts, cranberries and carrot.
FYI – to chop the pecan nuts, I simply took a hammer to the closed packet – and presto.

Transfer batter to the pans and bake for around 45 minutes, but I’d say 35-40 if your oven is a firecracker.

For the icing, beat 1/2 cup icing sugar and butter until creamy. Gradually add more icing sugar until it’s all been mixed in.  Then add the cream cheese. Beat for a very short period until just combined.

Heat saffron for 90s in the microwave. Crush in a mortar and pestle, or, if like me you don’t have one, use a bowl and the back of the knife. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract to the saffron and add the the icing mixture. Mix to combine.

If it’s a hot day, put the icing in the fridge and let is set a little before icing the cake.


I tried the petal method for the first time on my 70s-inspired heart shaped cake. It was partly successful, but I don’t think cream cheese the best fit for this decorating technique.

For the cupcakes I added some crimson food colouring to the icing for sweet pre-Valentine’s treats, and also to denote the presence of the cranberries.




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2 responses to “Carrot and Cranberry Cake with Saffron Cream Cheese Icing

  1. Nikki Brighton

    I’ve also got a copy of Cook and Enjoy (which I call my Tannie Sannie cookbook) and agree absolutely, It is full of treasures, interesting titbits, good basic recipes and exceptionally well used despite being the least glamourous title on my foodie shelf.

  2. Sam

    It isn’t glamorous at all, is it? Even the pictures are very olden days. But the recipes are practically flop-proof. Thanks for always reading my posts 🙂 Hope you’re well and cooking up a storm too.

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