Carrot cake. I’m back with a bundt…

Hello. Remember me? I’m the woman who occasionally blogs about cakes, rarely blogs about singing and is rather fond of gin. I’ve had a bit of a leave of absence for a few reasons, but kick-started by the theft of my MacBook. I lostimage my blogging mojo and to some extent, my baking mojo too. I’ve had a run of bad luck with cakes, bundts particularly, and so I just didn’t feel it was right to post about my disasters on the world wide web. Hey, I know it’s okay to have disasters, but I was just a bit glum about the quantity of them!

It’s been a cakey couple of weeks for me. The Clandestine Cake Club has launched its second recipe book, A Year of Cake. The Manchester groups held a joint book launch party at Waterstones on
Deansgate (featured in the Manchester Evening News) that was attended by our founder, Lynn Hill, who also created a lot of recipes for the book. We also had a party in Leeds (it’s the wrong side off the Pennines,
but it’s where she’s from so I forgive her. Also don’t tell anyone as it really ruins my Lancashire cred, but I really love Yorkshire!) for the book contributors and club organisers. For the event I baked one of Lynn’s recipes from the new book. An olive oil, rosemary and lime bundt. This one worked. It’s the first one that’s worked in about 3 months! So it gave me my bundt mojo back. Hurrah!

I had a cake to bake for work, for a team meeting. I always like to bake for an appreciative crowd and the lovely folk at my work do seem to enjoy it. One colleague put in a request for me to bake, and as it was her birthday at the weekend, I couldn’t really say no. She requested either a lemon drizzle or carrot cake. I decided carrot would be lovely and seasonal. There are literally millions of carrot cake recipes out there, each with their own tweaks and variations, so I decided to have a bit of a play with recipes and ingredients and this is what I came up with.

Sweet carrots, warm spices and a simple cream cheese icing, this bundt was made in a 6-cup tin. For you non-bundt strange folk, you should be able to make it in a springform cake tin – 8″ should do. Just adjust the cooking times so that a skewer in the centre comes out clean. Should take around an hour depending on your oven.

Here’s the recipe…

Ingredients

  • caster sugar – 100g
  • self raising flour – 200g
  • vegetable oil – 85ml
  • carrots (grated) – 75g
  • eggs – 2
  • yoghurt – 75ml (I used lemon flavour, full fat)
  • salt ¼ teaspoon
  • cinnamon – 1tsp
  • mixed spice – 1tsp
  • raisins – 50g
  • walnuts (chopped) – 50g
  • zest of one lemon
  • vanilla – 1tsp

For the icing

  • 100g icing sugar
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 75g full fat cream cheese (cold)

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180/160 fan
  • Spray your chosen bundt tin with cake release spray
  • Combine the flour, spices, salt, lemon zest, carrots, raisins and half the walnuts in a bowl and give it a good stir so everything is mixed and coated.
  • Using a mixer or electric hand whisk, beat together the sugar and eggs until they’re full of air, light in colour and the consistency of thick, double cream. Should take about 5 minutes.
  • With the mixer running, slowly pour in the oil, followed by the yoghurt and vanilla.
  • Next, add the flour and carrots mixture, either on the slowest mixer speed or by hand. Don’t over-mix at this point. You just want everything to be lightly combined.
  • Pop it into your prepared tin and into the oven.
  • Bake for around 45 minutes, depending on your oven. Test it after 40 mins with a skewer. If it comes out clean, you’re done.
  • Allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes or so, then turn out ont a rack and cool.
  • Make the cream cheese icing by mixing together the icing sugar and butter, then adding the chilled cream cheese and beating with an electric mixer for a few minutes until thick and pale and fluffy.
  • Slather on top of the cake (and the sides if you like) and sprinkle with the remaining walnuts.

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Chicken and Chorizo Slow Cooked Casserole

Batten down the hatches…there’s a storm coming! After some unseasonably warm weather (20 degrees in October? Madness) we are finally set for something slightly more autumnal, namely the tail end of Hurricane Gonzalo. This turn in the weather coincides with our new wood burning stove being fitted and although it’s not operational immediately, and the room isn’t decorated yet, it’s in and makes me feel cosy already! So here’s a simple, warming slow cooker recipe that will warm the cockles when the storm sets in. It’s low carb and for those doing The Harcombe Diet, it’s Phase 2 friendly (as long as your chorizo is sugar free) . Serve with lots of steamed veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower, or whatever suits your taste. For non-low carb people, It’s equally lovely with a jacket potato, rice or big wedges or bread to soak up the yummy juices.

Yes, I had already taken one out to feed the children before I took the photo! Oops.

Yes, I had already taken one out to feed the children before I took the photo! Oops!

Chicken and Chorizo slow cooked casserole You will need…

  • 6 Chicken Thighs (bone in, skin on)
  • Chorizo sausage ⅓ sliced and halved. (I use spicy but you don’t have to)
  • 1 onion – sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 can plum tomatoes
  • mushrooms – sliced
  • carrot – diced
  • Chicken stock cube (omit for THD)
  • Smoked paprika
  • Ancho chilli powder
  • Coriander (ground)
  • Salt and pepper

I’m being deliberately vague with quantities because it depends on the size of your slow cooker and how many people you are feeding, and your tastes. You can vary the veg depending on what you’ve got in stock, what’s seasonal or what your family like. Pepper would work well. I have also used leek. Method

  • Add the sliced onion to the bottom of your slow cooker bowl
  • Pop the veg (including the garlic) on top and season with salt and pepper, coriander, chilli powder and the paprika
  • Sit the chicken thighs on top of the veg and scatter over the chunks of chorizo
  • Pour the can of tomatoes over the thighs
  • Crumble the stock cube over the top and add a very small splash of water to the tomato tin, swirl and pop in
  • Cook on HIGH for around 4 hours – just leave it to do its thing! Your casserole will be ready but you can turn it onto low and leave until ready to serve. You can alter the cooking times depending on your make of slow cooker.

Little tipchicken and chorizo casseroles: For those who like a thicker sauce, you can add some cornflour made into paste with cold water about half an hour before serving. This will thicken up the tomato and veggie juices nicely. This isn’t Harcombe friendly! No slow cooker? No problem! Simply add all the ingredients to a large casserole dish and pop into a medium oven (around 180) for a couple of hours. You may like to soften the onion with the chorizo first, and you’ll need a bit more liquid (250ml should be fine). Check after an hour and add a little extra if required.