I didn’t manage to take a photo quick enough to get an uncut cake. This is only the second carrot cake I’ve ever made and to my mind this is superior to the Avoca carrot cake. It is from one of the Great British Bake-off (GBBO) tv series spin off baking books The Great British Book of Baking: 120 best-loved recipes from teatime treats to pies and pasties which is a lovely selection of truly British tea time treats. The aim of the book is to celebrate Britain’s baking heritage rather than feature recipes from contestants and as such if you only have one or two books on baking it would be a splendid choice.
This recipe contains walnuts and as you can see in the photo it is very definitely specked through with orange strands of carrot. It is a very soft cake and hard to cut tidily, since it is so soft I decided it would be too messy to go into school lunch boxes. It doesn’t taste too sweet the way some (especially commercial) carrot cakes do. One of my teens loves this cake, the other is not so sure but he will eat it.
For the Sponge
- 225g Self Raising Flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg (I used ground)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mixed spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 225g soft light brown muscovado sugar
- Grated zest of 1/2 an unwaxed orange
- 100g walnut pieces
- 3 medium free-range eggs (beaten)
- 150ml sunflower oil
- 250g grated carrots (approx 3 medium carrots)
For the filling and topping
- 200g full-fat cream cheese
- 50g unsalted butter, softened (and it really does need to be soft)
- 150g icing sugar, sifted
- Grated zest of 1/2 an unwaxed orange
- 2 teaspoons of orange juice
for the cake
- Preheat the oven to 180°c
- Grease and baseline two 20.5 cm round tins
- Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large bowl
- Use a wooden spoon to mix in the sugar, orange zest and nuts followed by the beaten eggs, sunflower oil and grated carrots.
- When combined, divide the mixture between the two cake tins and spread evenly.
- Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
For the icing
- Beat together all of the ingredients with a wooden spoon until very smooth and creamy. It should be of a spreadable consistency. (In warm weather you may need to cool the mixture in the fridge before using).
- Spread almost half of the mixture onto one of the cakes. Top with the second cake and spread the remainder of the mixture over the top.
- Optionally decorate the top of the cake with orange zest, walnuts or if you want to go completely over the top little marzipan carrots. I left mine plain.
I’ve been away for a weeks holiday and found I really missed cooking. Having baked lots from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible I’m trying to use some of the other baking books I have on my shelf and found a recipe for Sticky nutty flapjacks in The Great British Book of Baking: 120 best-loved recipes from teatime treats to pies and pasties. These flapjacks were delicious! Slightly chewy, sweet but not too sweet. Held together well and the nuts gave a nice contrast of texture and taste. The quantities were perfect for the tin size. I’ll definitely be making these again.
- 125g unsalted butter
- 125g light brown muscavado sugar
- 2 tablespoon of golden syrup
- 200g porridge oats
- a good pinch of salt (optional)
- 75g unsalted mixed nuts (I used hazelnuts, walnuts and pistachios)
- Grease and base line 20cm square tin
- Heat the oven to 150 C/ 300 F/ Gas 2
- Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a pan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Heat gently, stirring from time to time, until the butter has melted
- Remove from pan from the heat and stir in the oats and salt (if using). Then stir in the roughly chopped nuts.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and spread it out evenly. Use the back of a spoon to gently press the mixture.
- Bake in the heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
- Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the flapjack, then score into 12 or 16. Leave to cool before cutting the flapjacks.
My sister-in-law Rachel makes the best chocolate brownies ever and after I’d put the tin with these chocolate brownies from the The Great British Book of Baking into the oven Jon came across the note I’d made of the quantities of ingredients she uses for her recipe. Too late for this bake but I did use her recommendation of dark chocolate Bournville rather than the high cocoa french dark chocolate I usually use for baking. I haven’t used this recipe book much, it has an excellent range of nice looking bakes which I must try out. These brownies were nice, much better than shop bought and they have nice gooey texture but Rachel’s have the gooey texture with a lovely chocolatey crust contrast.
- 225g unsalted butter, diced
- 100g dark chocolate, broken up
- 200g caster sugar
- 4 large, free range eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 50g plain flour
- 50g cocoa powder
- a pinch of salt
- 75g walnut pieces
- icing sugar for dusting (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4
- Put the butter ad chocolate into a small heavy based pan. Set over the lowest possible heat and leave to melt gently, stirring frequently until smooth but not hot. Remove pan from the heat and leave to one side until needed.
- Grease and line a 20cm square tin
- Put the sugar, eggs, vanilla essence into a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly with wire whisk or wooden spoon
- Whisk in the cooled chocolate mixture, sift flour, cocoa and salt into bowl and mix well. Stir in nuts.
- Transfer mixture to tin and spread evenly. Bang tin on a work surface to expel any air bubbles
- Bake in the oven for about 25mins, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the mixture comes out with moist crumbs.
- Stand the tin on a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely, it will continue to cook in the tin as it cools.
- Cut into 16 squares and dust with icing sugar just before serving.
I felt the need for biscuits the morning and now I’m baking more often, McVities just don’t hit the mark. I had another browse through Jo Wheatley’s A Passion for Baking and whilst very tempted by her custard creams however I don’t have any custard powder so I decided to make her Pistachio and Orange Shortbread hearts instead.
These are not even close to instant gratification biscuits, there are two sessions of chilling dough in the fridge which to be honest is a bit of a pain when I just wanted to take a short break from my desk to mix up some biscuits and I ended up leaving my youngest to take them out of the oven whilst I went to a meeting. The double chilling would be fine if you’re pottering around doing not a lot in an evening or if you plan a baking sessions with strict timings.
There was a lovely orange scent as I rolled out the dough. Elder son liked them well enough to eat several but wouldn’t chose them if I asked what he wanted me to bake, younger son was more taken with them but he has a more sophisticated palate and an interest in baking. These would be a very nice addition to a sophisticated afternoon tea but I wouldn’t make them for children’s/teen’s tea.
- 60g unsalted pistachios, shelled
- 225g unsalted butter, softened
- 100g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 60g semolina
- zest of 1 orange, finely grated
- Whizz the pistachios in a food processor and tip into a bowl. Add the butter, caster sugar, flour and semolina, and using your fingers rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Add the grated orange zest and work until the mixture comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead very gently until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Lightly dust the work surface with flour and roll the dough out to a thickness of about 4mm. Using heart-shaped cutters, stamp out cookies and arrange on lined baking trays. Gather any dough off cuts into a ball and re-roll to make more cookies. Chill for a further 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven 170°C/325°F/ Gas Mark 3. Bake the cookies on the middle shelf of the oven for about 15–18 minutes or until pale golden. Remove from oven, sprinkle with caster sugar then transfer to wire racks to cool.