For a large cake you need

2 cups (250g) roughly chopped pecans or walnuts (reserve ½ cup for decoration)

3 cups (370g) cake flour

10ml baking powder

5ml bicarbonate of soda

15ml ground cinnamon

2ml ground cardamom

5ml salt

2 cups mashed banana (2-4 ripe bananas)

1 x 432g can pineapple crush

500ml (2 cups) grated fresh carrot

3 extra large (or 4 large) eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup (160ml) canola oil

1 cup (200g) packed light or dark brown sugar

3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar

10ml vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

200g butter at room temperature

200g full fat cream cheese

4 cups (500g) icing sugar

10ml vanilla extract

15ml lemon or lime zest

15ml lemon or lime juice

Before you start mixing you need to prepare

3 X 20cm cake pans if you like tall cakes (my pet hate!) or 2 X 23cm cake pans.

I prefer making 2 large flatter cakes with plenty of frosting in proportion to cake.

You can grease and flour the tins, but I prefer to line the base with baking paper and then give them a good non-stick baking spray.

Preheat the oven to 160°C

To prepare the cake

Spread pecans onto a lined baking pan. Toast for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Turn oven up to 180°C

Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt together in a large bowl. Add the sugar.

Whisk the rest of the cake ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir gently until completely combined. Fold in 1 and 1/2 cups toasted pecans. (Save the rest for decoration)

Spread batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Rotate pans halfway through baking.

Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. Once completely cooled, remove cakes from pan and if necessary level the tops off so they are flat. I simply use a serrated knife and regard the ‘off cuts’ as a cook’s treat! Generally these cakes turn out beautifully flat!

To Make the Frosting:

It is important that the butter is at room temperature!

In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed until smooth and creamy.

Add icing sugar, vanilla, zest, and juice. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then switch to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Taste. Add more lemon juice and a shake of salt if needed.

Assemble and frost: Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and evenly cover the top with frosting. If using 3 layers, finish with the third cake layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Garnish with leftover toasted pecans. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before slicing or else the cake may gently fall apart as you cut.

I sometimes make 2 single layer cakes as I find that many people, even if they are not dodging the ‘carb police’ cannot handle huge slices. The 23cm cakes are thick enough to slice in half, if you want extra filling sandwiched between the layers.

I like decorating the cake with fresh herbs. Use tiny sprigs of fresh rosemary and basil flowers. The herbs impart a very subtle flavour which I find delicious with the cream cheese frosting. Add any edible flowers, yellow or orange flowers will be best for the carrot & pineapple theme, but there are no strict rules here!

The cake is best made a day or two before it is needed. Leftover cake is delicious covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.