A Festive Carrot Cake

I made this enormous cake to be shared between my colleagues on the last few days of work before Christmas.  But, as I mentioned before, the weather turned bitterly cold that week and the snow came down so heavily that we got not one, not two but three whole days off school.   That left just me and the carrot cake snowed in and staring at each other.  Only one of us came out of it alive. :)

My version of  carrot is adapted from Nigel Slater’s ever popular recipe (most recently published in Tender).  I’ve given it a creamier frosting though and some Christmassy twists.  Think the ruby cranberrys and green pisachios make it look as lovely as it tastes.

Festive Carrot Cake

(serves 12)

200ml ground nut oil

250g musavado sugar

150g finely grated carrots

Juice of half a lemon

100g shelled, unsalted pisachio nuts

100g dried cranberries

250g self raising flour

1/2 tspn bicarbonate of soda

1 tspn baking soda

Pinch of salt

1/2 tspn ground nutmeg

1 tspn ground cinnamon

3 egg yolks

3 egg whites

  • In a large bowl, beat the oil and sugar until well combined.  Add the egg yolks gradually followed by the carrot, pistachios (reserve a few for the top of cake), cranberries (reserve a few of these too) and lemon juice.  Ensure these ingredients are well combined.
  • Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.  Set aside.
  • Sift the flour, bicarb, baking powder and salt into the wet mixture.  Mix until the flour is no longer visible.
  • Use a metal spoon to fold the egg whites into the mixture gently.
  • Divide the mixture between two buttered 22cm cake tins lined with baking paper.
  • Bake in a 180 oC oven for 40 minutes. 
  • Remove from oven and leave to cool slightly before removing from tins and cooling completely.  While waiting, make the frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

400g cream cheese

200g mascapone cheese

Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

150g icing sugar

  • Combine all the ingredients until smooth. 
  • Use 1/4 of the frosting between the two cake layers and roughly splat the rest all over the outside of the cake.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining pistachios and cranberries.

Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m sitting at my kitchen table.  My holidays should officially have started only just today but there’s been so much snow and ice around that school’s been closed all week.  As much as I love the excitement of the last week of the winter term, I’m not complaining.  Had a great few days playing with Marco in the snow (he loves it!) and preparing food for my family arriving. 

In the next hour or so they will all arrive and my peace will be pleasantly shatttered.  Shall use these these last quiet moments to share with you some photos from the last few days and to wish you all a very merry Christmas.  Hope Santa’s good to you.  :)

Upside Down Apricot and Ginger Cake

It seems like months ago I promised to post the recipe for this cake.  According to this blog though, it’s only been 13 days.  Perhaps there has been some rip in the fabric of time or maybe I’ve just been so busy that days and weeks no longer have any meaning to me any more.  Whatever reason, my apologies for the delay.

It’s here now but I’ve cheated and linked to two seperate recipes which need only be tweaked then combined.  Forgivable, no?

Upside Down Apricot and Ginger Cake

Make the sponge from this recipe – Half the ingredients though and add one teaspoon of ground ginger to the flour.

Make enough of these baked apricots to cover the bottom of a buttered and lined 20cm (ish) tin.

  • Heat the oven to 175oC.  Rub cake tin with butter and line the bottom with baking paper.
  • Scatter apricots over the bottom of the tin then pour on the sponge batter evenly.
  • Bake for 35 minutes.
  • Cool then turn out sponge. 
  • Eat warm or cool with a dollop of creme fraiche.

Freezing Fog

It hasn’t got above zero here for a few days and a thick layer of freezing fog has engulfed us all of that time. 

If you ever want to freak yourself out, try going for a solitary walk along a lonely country road in icy mist. 

Wah!

 

Baked Apricots

Baked dried apricots, I should clarify.  Being too chilly to grow round here and not being a fruit that travels well, it’s nigh on impossible to find a good apricot in Scotland at the height of summer, let alone in the depths of winter.  The dried ones are very nice indeed but just recently I’ve discovered a way to make them beautifully moist and gently spiced.

Baked Apricots with Ginger

Dried apricots

Crystalised ginger

Brown sugar

Water

  • Add the apricots to a ovenproof dish big enough for them to lie one or two apricots deep.  Scatter a little chopped crystalised ginger over the top.  How much?   Depends how gingery you want it.  I made about 25 apricots and used 2 marble sized chunks of crystalised ginger.  That was enough for a slight zing.
  • Pour water over the apricots and ginger until they are just covered.  Leave to soak while the oven heats up to 170oC. 
  • Cover the baking dish with foil and bake the apricots for an hour or until almost all the water is absorbed and there is just a little sticky liquid at the bottom of the dish.
  • Eat warm or cold on their own or with ice-cream.  I used mine to bake an apricot and ginger upside down cake.  Shall post recipe later in the week. :)