Avoca Cafe Cookbook – Carrot Cake

I was given the Avoca Cafe Cookbook: Bk. 1 by my mum and sister Anne-Marie. This is the first carrot cake I’ve made and the first recipe I’ve tried from this book. I made carrot muffins once when the boys were quite young and they hated the idea so I’ve never got around to trying carrot cake until now. Avoca’s carrot cake recipe doesn’t have any dried fruit in which surprised me but I made it up exactly as the recipe. The cake is moist, colour is lovely pale colour with streaks of orange and taste is very pleasant but I think I’d still like some dried fruit. The icing is very soft although I did add an extra 50g icing sugar. I also cooked the cakes an extra few mins. I’ve put some carrot cake in the boys packed lunch, I’ll have to update this post with what they think. I’m planning to slice one loaf and freeze for Jon’s aunt and uncle, I hope it freezes ok. I must try a different carrot cake recipe soon and compare. (Updated to add, a quick browse of my recipes books suggests the carrot cake in Rachel Allen’s Bake cookbook would be a good one to try)

Ingredients (makes 2 loaves)

  • 400g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 400g self raising flour
  • 400ml sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 400g grated carrots
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

For the topping 

  • 175g full fat cream cheese
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • juice and grated zest 1/2 lemon
  • 350g icing sugar
  1. Line 2 900g/2lb loat tins
  2. Whisk together sugar, eggs and oil until thick then mix in flour and mixed spice.
  3. Stir in the carrots and vanilla essence.
  4. Pour mixture into loaf tins and make in oven preheated to 170 degrees C for 1 hr (or until a skewer comes out clean).
  5. Leave to cool in tins for 10mins then turn onto a cooling rack.
  6. To make the topping beat cream cheese, butter, lemon juice and zest together, then beat in the icing sugar. Spread on top of cooled cakes.

Carrot and Cumin Soup – New Covent Garden: A Soup for Every Day

I haven’t been keeping upto date with making notes on the recipes so this is an old post really.

I first trying the Carrot and Cumin soup from the New Covent Garden: A Soup for Every day a few weeks ago. Very nice although hotter than anticipated (slightly too spicy for Aidan although good for the rest of us). Made the soup again recently and reduced the amount of hot paprika, also used cream instead of milk as I had cream to use and the soup wasn’t as nice. So definitely back to original recipe for next time I make carrot soup.

Had a request from the boys that I try a meat soup next time!


  • 600g carrots
  • 900ml boiling water
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 tablespoon chives, chopped


  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the carrots, onion, garlic, paprika and cumin. Stir then cover and cook gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the boiling water, bring back to the boil, then cover and simmer for a further 10 minutes until the carrots are tender.
  3. Blend until completely smooth, then add the milk and lemon juice. Reheat gently, season to taste then serve topped with chives.

New Irish Cookery – Paul and Jeanne Rankin

Had friends over for dinner on Sat so thought I’d do some recipes from the Rankin’s New Irish Cookery book. I’m not sure I’ve cooked anything from it before although the recipes look appealing. I needed to avoid Beef, preferably no red meat at all and no shellfish except prawns.

For starter I made the Smoked salmon and wheaten bread millefeuilles with marinated red onion. Wheaten bread easy to bake. Very difficult to slice the bread thin enough though. The marinated onion added a delightful sweet touch to the dish and essential to lift this out of wheaten bread and smoked salmon. I didn’t do the top layer as the thicker bread slices meant it was high enough.

Main was Salmon with horseradish crust and chive cream sauce. I was trying to prepare what I could ahead of time and accidentally used the horseradish and mustard mix I’d prepared for the chive sauce to coat the salmon. It wasn’t a disaster but meant the fish crust wasn’t as zippy as I’d have liked. TBH I think the chive sauce could have been prepared to just before adding chives and reheated gently when needed, this would have stopped me using the wrong mix to coat the fish. Not sure how far ahead the salmon crust could have been prepared, I must experiment.

Veg was buttered spinach and made cream potato gratin from the Rankin book. The gratin was really easy to make but the recipe had absurd amounts of cream. I couldn’t work out why whipping cream either. I used a fraction of the quantity of double cream and it turned out beautifully.

Pudding I made a basic apple cake from Darina Allen’s Irish Traditional Cooking book. Very easy pastry and pleasant apple pie. Not really a dinner party pudding though. Apple cake was very nice cold the next day.