Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Mary Berry's carrot cake

Why is it that men come with a huge collection of all sorts of doodaahs? I get the fact that you might need a DVD player and a satellite decoder (I had to ask the Culinary Consultant what the thing is called, I knew it had something to do with satellite...). And cables! Boxes and boxes of the most obscure cables which never seem to be needed, but have to be stored nonetheless. Had I only measured the length of cables I shoved into moving boxes when we vacated the Bachelor Pad. I would say there were miles of them, possibly enough to reach to the moon and back. Twice. What they are needed for is beyond me, but when it comes to men, it seems to be all about who has the longest cables. We also have a number of silver/black/white boxes located in the shelving unit underneath our gigantic TV (another mine is bigger than yours device). Not sure what they are needed for as several of them have never been used. But hey ho, apparently men just come with all this baggage. And the other day, Man Friend (a friend of the Culinary Consultant) brought yet another doodaah into the house. It's one of those game console things, and apparently we have to have it. Not sure why, as the Culinary Consultant spends all his free hours in front of his computer playing games. Again, I don't need to understand it, it's yet another box with yet more cables. However, if I ever meet the person who decided that all games that go with said console have to be packed in bright neon green covers, I will give them a piece of my mind. Seriously, they are the ugliest things I have ever seen! And now there are stacks of said fugliness all over our living room. I have decreed that we now have to buy a new storage unit to the living room, one with doors, so that I don't have to constantly look at those neon green horrors. All you women out there, let me know how you cope with all of this? I'm sure I can't be the only one facing this male behaviour.

Don't get me wrong, despite all these horrors the men in our lives sometimes have good ideas as well. Like the other day when we were in the grocery store and the Culinary Consultant was picking out carrots for our Sunday roast he thought the carrots looked unusually good so he asked whether we could make a carrot cake. I assured him that would not be a problem. When have I ever refused to bake a cake? Although obviously we in this case meant me. I hate grating carrots.

I don't have a "tried and tested" carrot cake recipe, and I tried one last fall that was supposed to be "the best carrot cake ever". Sadly it turned out rather dry and not that good. So this time I turned to Queen Mary Berry for a carrot cake recipe. Don't tell anyone, but I added some raisins which weren't in the original recipe. I wonder if she would disapprove...

Mary Berry's carrot cake (serves 8):
250 g sunflower oil (I didn't have sunflower so I used rapeseed)
4 large eggs
225 g light muscovado sugar
200 g carrots, coarsely grated (this was about 2 carrots)
300 g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice and 1 tsp ground ginger (I didn't have any mixed spice so I used 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves and 1/2 tsp nutmeg)
75 g chopped walnuts
(I also added 1/2 cup sultanas as I think a carrot cake should have sultanas or raisins)

50 g butter at room temperature
25 g icing sugar
250 g cream cheese
a few drops of vanilla extract

The howto:
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease two 20 cm round cake tins and line the bases with parchment (to be honest, I don't have two 20 cm round cake tins, so I used one xx by xx pyrex ovenproof dish and did not bother to butter it). Add the oil, eggs and sugar into a large bowl. Whisk (using an electric whisk) until lighter and noticeably thicker. Gently fold in the carrot, and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Divide evenly between cake tins and bake for about 35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean from the middle of the cake. Transfer onto a wire rack to cool. I obviously transferred the entire batch of batter into my one dish and baked for about 50 minutes, until a cake tester came out clean from the middle of the cake.

Prepare the icing by combining all ingredients in a bowl and mix using an electric whisk until well combined and smooth. Spread half of the icing on one of the cakes, add the other on top and spread the rest of the icing on top. Decorate with walnuts. 

Note, I had a 300 g tub of cream cheese so I increased the amounts of ingredients for the icing as follows: 60 g butter, 30 g icing sugar and 300 g cream cheese.

The verdict:
This was a great and moist carrot cake. And I think the raisins were a great addition. Personally, I could live without the nuts, but they were put in by request from the Culinary Consultant and I'm not complaining, just saying that if I would be making the cake just for myself, then I would have left them out. But it's a question of personal preference. One thing I do have to say though is that I didn't find this cream cheese icing nearly as good as the one I made for my red velvet cake. Next time I will use that on the carrot cake. Also, if making a two layer cake, where you would need frosting both for the middle and top of the cake, I think using 250 g cream cheese would be a bit stingy. But again, both me and the Culinary Consultant think there is no such thing as too much icing, whereas you might prefer a different icing-to-cake ratio. 

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