Carrot and Apple Cake with a Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.

You can’t beat a good carrot cake can you? Well maybe there are lots of other favourite cakes out there but I can’t resist carrot cake.  I’ve baked lots of them over the years and tried different recipes.

I’ve been enjoying testing out a few recipes from Lorraine Pascale’s new book “Bake” recently.  Our neighbouring village had it’s Spring Festival a couple of weekends ago and I always like to donate a cake or few to the cafe that the PTA run in the primary school hall.  As my son went to that school a few years back I always like to support it as he had such a happy time there.

Carrot Cakes always seem to be popular with lots of people and this one from Lorraine Pascale was no exception. This version contains not only grated carrots but also some grated apple.  This works extremely well with carrot and adds some natural sweetness. To add maple syrup to the cream cheese frosting was also a delicious touch which worked really well.

On the Saturday morning, the day before the Spring Festival I got up really early.  It had been a crazy busy week working full time teaching a Reception class in a local school and I was due to be there another week afterwards.   The night before I had gone off to bed at 9.30pm absolutely exhausted and laid there thinking would I have time to get everything done over the weekend? Thank heavens it was a Bank Holiday that weekend. I was up at 6am and was already baking.  I had to be at my beauty therapist friend’s house for my appointment at 10am and I had to have a headstart.  I find if I get up early without distractions then I get loads done.

I was so grateful to the grating attachment on my new food processor to help me out with grating the carrots and the apple.  I don’t mind grating by hand but I was in a rush and getting a machine to do the hard work really helped to cut the time down.  The carrots and apple came out a little bit chunkier than I would have liked but it did add to the texture of the cake.  In other carrot cakes I’ve added walnuts or pecan nuts but this one doesn’t contain nuts at all. It doesn’t have any dried fruit in either, like raisins or sultanas.

The recipe itself is simple to put together as all the ingredients are weighed out and put into one bowl.  This includes using vegetable oil as the fat instead of butter as is traditionally seen in a carrot cake or a muffin mixture.  Along with this was some light brown soft sugar, eggs, the apple and carrot, some self raising flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice, cinnamon and some vanilla extract.

When all the batter had been mixed together it was divided between two greased and lined circular loose bottomed sandwich tins. The cakes were then baked in my oven for about 30-35 minutes at around 160oC in my fan oven. While they were baking I went upstairs, sorted out some washing, put some washing away and tried to get my son’s uniform ironed for work. All while I kept an eye and an ear out for the oven timer.

Half an hour or so later the cakes were ready and out of the oven.  I left them to cool in their tins on the work top on top of a wire rack and headed down to see my friend to get my nails done.

In the afternoon I got round to decorating the carrot cake.  The frosting was a traditional cream cheese one but with the addition of maple syrup. Maple syrup goes beautifully with carrot cake and I was happy I had just enough in the cupboard from pancake day.  I’m not the neatest cake decorator and to be honest I found it really tricky to keep my frosting neat. My mum was standing next to me watching me ice it and she got her fork out and fluffed up the icing.  This wasn’t the original way I wanted to decorate the cake with neat, smooth edges but the more I tried to smooth the icing the more it wanted to fall off!  To finish off I used a dozen sugar carrots bought from a pack found in the supermarket a few weeks back.

The following morning I dropped all three cakes baked down at the school.  They were gratefully received and to help the servers in the cafe I pre-cut the cakes for them.  When my mum and I went back down to the festival a couple of hours later I noticed that the carrot cake had completely gone. It had sold out.  That made me so happy.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Lemonade and Ginger Beer Drizzle Loaf Cakes- Fentiman’s Drinks.

 

Lush! Who can’t resist a slice of lemon drizzle cake? This one is even more special as it contains Fentimans Victorian Lemonade.

  A couple of weeks ago I was so happy to win an Easter Hamper in a competition on Fentiman’s Facebook page.  I couldn’t believe it, I never win anything like that and there were loads of entries.  The hamper was a huge, gorgeous wicker basket filled with a massive selection of Fentiman’s popular Spring favourites.  Not only that, but there was an additional treat for us, Being Easter, the hamper also contained a giant Quality Street egg, a Harry Hopalot rabbit egg from Thorntons and some delicious dark chocolate mini eggs.  I was so excited when the courier delivered it a couple of days afterwards.

 My only grievance about the hamper was that one of the small bottles containing the Seville Orange and Mandarin drink was smashed to smithereens inside the hamper. The drink obviously had leaked out but I was more worried about reaching inside the hamper among the shredded tissue paper to see if I could retrieve the broken glass.  I was so lucky I didn’t cut my hand!

Now as you know, I always like to have any excuse to bake. So having a few bottles of my favourite soft drinks was no exception.  I’ve seen cakes being baked with Coca Cola with it and wondered if I could do the same with a couple of the drinks from the hamper. I love Lemon Drizzle Cake and thought maybe instead of lemon juice I could use the lemonade in it. Last Saturday I was at home for the afternoon, so I had time to play around and experiment.

LEMONADE DRIZZLE LOAF CAKE

Ingredients:

165g unsalted butter, softened

320g caster sugar

3 large eggs, preferably free range

200g plain flour

 Grated zest from 1 lemon

90ml Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade

For the glaze:

160g caster sugar

60ml Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade

There should be about 1/3 of the bottle of Lemonade left over, so pour it into a glass and enjoy drinking it while you’re baking!

How to make the Loaf cake:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 170oC/ 325oF or Gas Mark 3.  Line a 900g/ 2lb loaf tin with baking parchment or use a ready made loaf tin liner which can be bought from a good cookware shop.  I use the ones available in Lakeland and swear by them!
  • Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer or whisk until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  If you need to, scrape the mixture down the sides of the bowl.
  • Mix in the flour and lemon zest until thoroughly mixed.  Then fold in the Victorian Lemonade.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level off the surface of the cake.  Bake for about 1 hour in the oven.  To test if the cake is done, insert a skewer into the cake. If the top bounces back when touched and the skewer comes out clean, then the cake is ready.
  • Keep the cake in the tin until it is completely cooled, although transfer the tin over to a wire rack.
  • While the cake is cooling, mix caster sugar and lemonade together in a bowl to make a syrup. When the cake is completely cool, use a skewer to prick holes in the top of the cake.  Pour the syrup over the top of the cake.  Allow it to set on the top before taking the cake out of the tin and the wrapper. This stops all the syrup completely soaking into the cake and gives the cake a contrasting, crunchy topping.
  • Cut into slices to serve. Any uneaten slices need to be kept in an airtight container and should keep for about 3 days.
Once the cake has cooled and the icing has set, then it was ready to come out of the tin and to be served.
Cut into 8-10 generous slices. I can’t cut thin slivers of cake!
My favourite piece is always the one at the end. Looks very rustic but that’s what appeals to me.

Lemon Drizzle cakes always go down well with my family and I cut the cake up to put in a tin for another day.  It was all too tempting for me to nibble some and I did take half of one piece to try out.  It’s quite a sweet cake as lemon drizzle cakes are so you won’t want a massive piece.  Then again, where cake is concerned I don’t do small!

 After the success of the Lemonade Drizzle Loaf Cake I was tempted to have another go but adapt the recipe for an alternative flavour.  My favourite Fentiman’s drink is their Ginger Beer and I always have it if I’m going out for dinner at a local pub when I’m driving.  Luckily for me, my kids don’t like Ginger Beer. so they hadn’t guzzled it all up.  Last Wednesday I found myself with a day off work so I chose to do a spot of baking once I’d done all my jobs.  I thought I’d try out some Ginger Beer Drizzle Loaf Cake and see if that worked.

GINGER BEER DRIZZLE LOAF CAKE

Ingredients are the same as for the Lemonade Drizzle Cake but with a couple of substitutions and additions:

  • Instead of the grated zest of a lemon, use 3 balls of stem ginger which have been rinsed, chopped into tiny pieces, rinsed and tossed in a tablespoonful of flour.
  • Instead of Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade, use their Ginger Beer.
  • Optional: I also added a tsp of stem ginger extract available from Lakeland.
Not only did I have my Easter hamper prize but I ended up buying some more Ginger Beer and Rose Lemonade from the Good Food Show last weekend.
Who fancies a slice of Ginger Beer Drizzle Cake?
A very rustic looking cake. I didn’t let this cake cool down as much as it should have done so the top cracked as it cut!

The only problem I found with the Ginger Beer Drizzle Cake is that it didn’t have that punch of ginger I was expecting.  Next time I bake it, I will add a couple of teaspoonfuls of ground ginger to the mix along with the dry ingredients and see what happens.  Also, I found that despite rinsing and flouring the ginger pieces, they still sank to the bottom of the cake.  I ate a thin sliver off one of the pieces I’d cut and thought maybe the recipe needs tweaking a bit. Then again, if you don’t like a big ginger hit, then you don’t have to change anything.  The other treat was, to sit and drink the remainder of the 275ml bottle with your lunch.

At the time of writing there are two bottles left and my kids have been clamouring to drink them.  I have let them have a treat at the weekend but there’s no way I’m letting them near the large bottle of Rose Lemonade!  Hands off!

Happy Baking.

Love Sam xx

Blueberry and Pecan Muffin Cake from Delia’s Cakes.

036
Blueberry and Pecan Muffin Cake: recipe from Delia’s Cakes.

This is the second recipe I baked from Delia’s Cakes as part of my monthly Cooking The Books Challenge.  I baked four recipes this weekend as I wanted to bake and donate some cakes to the cafe at my son’s old Primary school where they serve tea and cake during the village Spring Festival.

I love blueberries and any excuse to bake with them and there’s a couple of other posts on here with blueberry cakes.  But this cake with the addition of pecan nuts and a crumbly topping just made my mouth water from the picture.   I thought it would be a great bake to send down to the Spring Festival as not everyone likes fancy decorated cakes.  To be honest even though I love cake decorating,  it’s all about the taste for me!

First I greased my springform cake tin with Dr Oetker Cake Release Spray and lined it with a baking parchment circle.  The oven was still on from the previous bake at the right temperature so I got on straightaway with the weighing out.  All the dry ingredients were sifted together in a large mixing bowl- starting with plain flour, then I added some baking powder and cinnamon to the mixture.  In another bowl I mixed together some milk, melted butter, eggs and sugar.  These two mixtures were combined carefully and folded with a metal spoon.  Finally I added some blueberries.

The mixture was quickly spooned into the tin and then I added the crunchy crumbly topping.  This was some chopped pecan nuts, some more blueberries and a sprinkling of demerara sugar.  Into the oven it went for around an hour.  After an hour my mum checked the cake and it felt springy to the touch so she took it out of the oven and let it cool down.

I thought the cake looked a bit flat compared to other cakes but then when I checked the picture out in the book, thankfully there wasn’t much difference.  When it was cooled down I dusted the top of it with icing sugar and put it away in a box ready to be taken down to the Spring Festival.

Although I had been concerned about no one wanting to buy my Raspberry Cupcakes I noticed that my Blueberry Muffin cake had been cut up into 8 slices and by the end of the day they had all gone.  My son’s former teacher was eating the last slice of it when I was chatting to her on her stall in the playground and I was so grateful to hear her say it was delicious! My mum said to me afterwards that she thought people are turning away from the heavily decorated cupcakes and going for more plain things.  I agree with her.  I love the look of cupcakes but I always have a massive headache after eating loads of that buttercream!

036
Delia says “Any of my muffin recipes can be adapted to any fruit and blueberries have always been popular so in this recipe I decided instead of making muffins, I’d use the mixture to make a cake, which has turned out to be a real winner!” I can definitely agree with that, Delia!

So, this cake in my opinion was a real success and one I would love to bake time and time again.  I think it would work well with raspberries and apples as well.  Watch this space!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx