A holiday and a carrot cake.

(Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting)

The boy and I are both on holidays this week. It’s one of those unusual occurances normally reserved for a handful of days over the Christmas period. A rarity, in other words. Which also meant that I had really been looking forward to this week.

Unfortunately, I have not been feeling well – one blood test and a CT scan later, and it still remains a mystery. Due to the visits to the doctor etc, we had to shelve plans to do a bit of travelling. This was disappointing not only because I love road trips, but also because I was harbouring daydreams of the two of us renting a little cottage somewhere, walking around in our jammies all day and eating steak with our fingers. Not that we couldn’t have done that at home, but like they say, it’s all about location, location, location!

Still, we are having a ball, lazing around at home. Yesterday we spent the evening watching old episodes of 30 Rock, eating large slices of mince tart and talking general rubbish, as we’re prone to do. All washed down with hot cups of bancha. The mince tart was inspired by the cold weather and some dried fruit marinated in leftover Guinness. The general rubbish was inspired by non-leftover Guinness. Or perhaps not.

This had been a vacation not just from work, but from the things I normally bake too. I’ve been embracing more time-consuming recipes such as puff pastry and breads which we’ve been enjoying for breakfast. Maybe more on those, in a future post. I also took a holiday from my favourite carrot cake recipe, to make Claire Clark’s very carroty and very delicious carrot cake. Worth going on holiday for!

Carrot Cake :
(from Indulge by Claire Clark)

250g wholemeal flour
25g baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
125g dessicated coconut
5 medium eggs
250g muscovado sugar
185ml vegetable oil
500g carrots, grated
125g Californian raisins

For the cream cheese frosting :
125g cream cheese
375g icing sugar, sifted
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
a capful of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180’C. Grease a 25cm deep, round springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.

Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg together, then stir in the coconut so it does not clump together. Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar and oil together until the mixture becomes pale and has doubled in volume. Gently fold in the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix and lose volume. Finally fold in the carrots and raisins. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for about 40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin.

To make the frosting, simply beat all the ingredients together until pale and fluffy.

Turn the cooled cake out of the tin and using a long serrated knife, slice it into 3 layers. Sandwich them together with the cream cheese frosting and spread a third of it over the top.

Comments (42)

Tags: , , , , ,

Playing favourites


(Sticky Carrot, pineapple, ginger and macadamia cake)

This is my favourite carrot cake. There are many others like it, but this one is mine.

To think, I didn’t even give it a second glance when I first saw the recipe in one of my favourite cookbooks. It was a chance conversation with a friend that led me to give it a go. You know you have to when people whose opinion you trust, exclaim, “You must make it! It’s soooo good!”, while their eyeballs are rolling to the back of their head and they’re dribbling a little at the thought.

So after I’d cleaned up the mess she had made to the carpet, I resolved to buy some carrots and try the cake. This was almost a year ago. Since then, I’ve made it a few more times and it’s still as luscious and lip-smackingly moist as ever.

Don’t be daunted by the seemingly long list of ingredients. It takes less time to measure out than you think. Don’t stint on the frosting either. If you’re on a New Year’s health kick (like many people I know), you could substitute some of the sour cream for thick yogurt. Whatever you do, don’t omit the frosting entirely! It truly completes the entire cake-eating experience.

The recipe? Why here it is, but should you attempt it, please don’t blame me if any random drooling occurs.

Sticky pineapple, carrot, ginger and macadamia cake :
(serves 12 – 16; from Mix & Bake by Belinda Jeffery)

for the cake :
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
440g caster sugar
35g shredded coconut
120g roasted macadamias, roughly chopped
6 pieces crystallised ginger, finely chopped
3 eggs
60ml buttermilk
60ml macadamia oil or light olive oil
2 cups grated carrot (approximately 4 medium-sized peeled carrots)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 x 440g can crushed pineapple (in natural juice), drained
toasted coconut chips, to serve

for the sticky glaze :
110g caster sugar
60ml buttermilk
60g unsalted butter
2 teaspoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the vanilla cream :
250ml thickened cream
190ml sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180’C. Butter two shallow 23 or 24cm round cake tins. Line the bases with buttered baking paper then dust the tins with flour. Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar and mix everything together with a balloon whisk for 1 minute. Add the shredded coconut, macadamias and ginger and toss them about so they’re well coated in the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, then whisk in the buttermilk and oil until just combined. Use a spatula to stir in the carrots, vanilla extract and drained pineapple. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir them together until just combined.

Divide the batter evenly between the cake tins. Sit them on the middle shelves of the oven and bake them for about 40 minutes or until the centre of each springs back when lightly pressed.

Meanwhile, to make the sticky glaze, put all the glaze ingredients except the vanilla extract into a small saucepan over medium-heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then bring it to the boil. As soon as it boils, reduce the heat to low-medium so the syrup bubbles steadily and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract, then set aside in a warm spot.

When the cakes are ready, transfer the tins to a wire rack. Leave them in their tins and immediately pour half of the sticky glaze over each cake, tilting them so the tops are evenly coated. Leave them to cool for 30 minutes. Remove the cakes from the tins, discard the baking paper and let them cool completely on wire racks.

For the vanilla cream, put all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk carefully just until soft peaks form. Gently loosen under one of the cake layers and sit it on a serving plate. Spread about half of the cream evenly over the top, leaving a slight border all around (this is so the cream doesn’t squish out the sides when the next layer goes on). Sit the second layer on this. Spread the remaining cream evenly over the top. To finish it off, dot the toasted coconut flakes over the top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Comments (44)

Tags: , , , ,

Purple Carrots, Camille and a case of the Why Nots.


I was suffering from a case of the Why Nots the other day, standing in front of the crates of vegetables at Sainsburys. In one hand was a bunch of perfectly ordinary orange carrots, but from the corner of my eye I had spied a container of purple carrots. And yes, why not indeed. I’ve made this carrot and ginger cake so many times that I can almost taste the crumbs in my mouth, even while the ingredients are still being weighed up into a bowl. It’s nice to add a little something different to the mix every now and again, just to see what kind of difference it makes. Diced candied yellow peach is as nice as candied ginger, for example.

The purple carrots are quite sweet and attractive in their raw form, but the big question is, would it lend a purplish hue to the resulting cake? As it happens, the answer is not really; the cake doesn’t turn out as vibrantly purple or as exotic-looking as purple rice and furthermore, when stirred in the bowl, the mixture morphs into an alarming shade of grey. The baked cake is however devilishly dark, like a Rhett Butler of the cake world with it’s slick of frosting, and welcomingly damp, as Nigella might describe it.

What other Why Nots can this cake handle? A substitution of grated beetroot or apple for carrot? Why not omit the cream cheese frosting, to ease the calorific burden. Why not bake to the rhythm of Camille. Why not make a cake at least once a month, to gladden the hearts of friends.

PurpleCarrot2.jpg PurpleCarrot3.jpg

PurpleCarrotMake.jpg PurpleCarrotMake4.jpg BakingTin.jpg

PurpleCarrotCake.jpg PurpleCarrotCake4.jpg

Comments (3)

Tags: , ,