There is a family myth that my sister-in-law, the lovely Dianne cannot cook. One of the first to claim this as a fact is Dianne herself. I am here to tell you that that she does not cook, not that she cannot cook! My brother Kim is very proficient in the kitchen, and my niece is married to a very talented Chef – so it is in the blood. Lewis is the Chef at Hotham Park Cafe, it is an idylic spot in Bognor Regis – check it out on Facebook.
Di suggested I get her baking, so the Bonaking.com machinery de-camped from Brighton and made the pilgrimage to Bognor Regis, where that side of my family lives.
I could choose whatever I wanted to make with her, so I thought I’d go for two bakes. One this Carrot Cake recipe and Dianne’s favourite something with salted caramel – so I have chosen Salted Caramel Profiteroles (that should follow as next week’s post).
This could not be more simple – almost an all-in-one with no whipping or fiddling about, the hardest part of this is grating the carrots – so no dramas required.
To start, put the oven on, 180C/350F/Gas 4 (Di has a gas oven). Grease and line a 26cm springform cake tin.
- 450ml Sunflower Oil
- 400g/ Plain Flour
- 2 tsp Bicarbonate Of Soda
- 550g Caster Sugar
- 5 Eggs
- ½ tsp Salt
- 2½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 525g Grated Carrots (get them reeady before mixing)
- 150g Chopped Walnuts
- 150g Dried Fruit Mix (Optional)
Put everything except the grated carrot, walnut pieces and dried fruit into a bowl, mix well – use a spoon here it’s that simple.
Stir in the carrots and walnuts and if you are going for them the mixed dried fruit. Note the dried fruit is optional, but if you go for it then I suggest the following. Use a mixed dried fruit from Asda called Cherry Berry Mix (Sour Cherries, Blueberries, Cranberries and Raisins). Make a strong cup of black tea, drop them in for 10 mins (no more or they get too moist and add to much fluid to the mix). Dry them thoroughly on kitchen paper before adding to the mix.
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the tin and set aside to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Top tip here! When you test that the cake is cooked it is best to use a wooden skewer, the rough surface makes the uncooked mix cling to it. The metal ones you can buy are smooth so the mix could slide off as you pull it out of the cake – giving you a less than perfect bake.
- 200g/ Cream Cheese
- 150g Sifted Golden Caster Sugar
- 100g Soft Unsalted Butter
- Carrot Decorations (I found mine in Asda)
For the frosting, mix the cream cheese, butter and sugar then whisk until fluffy. It will not increase in volume as much as whipping cream; we just want a little air to lighten the mix. Don’t over whisk or it could turn to butter. Spread the icing over the top of the cake with a palette knife.
The thing is Di told me that she could not cook, however… she tackled this recipe with gusto, verve and more than a little skill. So to my nieces and nephews if you need a carrot cake cooking, the Di is your girl. I’m told that when my parents visited there was not much left, so it couldn’t have been all bad.