Easy carrot cake recipe review

Carrot cake with cream cheese icingLast Monday I baked a carrot cake for my hockey friend’s birthday. I’ve tried to find out where the recipe came from originally but to no avail so I have written it out below. I thought it was a really easy cake to make because it’s an all in one recipe and is pretty quick to bake. The only labourious bit is grating three carrots so if you have a veg grating setting on a food processor, I recommend you use that! I baked the cake at gas mark 5, 190 degrees, and the recipe said 40mins in the middle shelf. I would actually take a look through the oven window at 35mins and pull it out at 37 mins because for my particular oven, it was a little browner than I would have liked. For the icing I only used 3.5 ounces of icing sugar (rather than four) so it wasn’t too sweet. The panel of hockey girls thought the cake was delicious so give it a whirl!

Carrot cake with cheese cream icing side view
8oz plain flour
6oz dark brown soft sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 level tsp of cinnamon
7 oz sunflower oil (or corn oil if you have it)
3 large carrots, grated
3 large eggs
4 oz sultanas

Icing ingredients:
6oz Philadelphia (I used the light version)
3.5 oz icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence

Method: Mix together cake ingredients all in one. Split between two cakes and bake at 190 degrees for 37mins. Mix together icing ingredients and when the cake is cool, spread between the layer and on top. Hey presto, easy-to-make carrot cake!

Blooming Great Tea Party for Marie Curie

Last weekend, my friend (who writes this gift ideas blog) and I organised a Blooming Great Tea party as part of the Marie Curie fund raising initiative. The idea is you bake lots of nice cakes and eat them with cups of tea whilst giving a donation! We had perfect weather and our guests enjoyed summer berry muffins, strawberry and buttermilk scones with clotted cream and jam, plus lemon drizzle cake. The berry muffins were amazing, I must try the recipe out for myself sometime. This was all washed down with tea, coffee, iced tea or Pimms! We raised over £100 for Marie Curie and had a lot of fun in the process! I’d recommend getting involved and holding your own tea party.

This is the lemon drizzle cake recipe which I used from Easy Living’s website. It is totally idiot proof, quick to make and is my trusty fall-back recipe if I’m short of time/need to bake a cake with minimal effort. I would definitely recommend this recipe and there’s no need to tweak anything either. Good luck!

More macarons!

Violet and vanilla, Vanilla and Passion fruit and chocolate macarons

Back in June, the day after I had been attempting to make macarons, my flatmate spent the day in the kitchens at BMA House and it turned out that the pastry chef Herman had also been making macarons! He made delicate violet ones with vanilla cream, vanilla ones and my favourite one was passion fruit with chocolate filling. Herman’s were much flatter and neater than mine and they tasted delicious! Here’s a stack of them for you to see!

Lime and mascarpone cheesecake recipe review

Lime and soft cheese cheesecakeDo you have taste memories? Where you can still picture an amazing piece of food you’ve eaten, what it tasted like, where you were at the time, the feelings it conjured. Well that’s exactly what my friend had – a taste memory for lime and mascarpone cheesecake. He was curious to reignite his love of cheesecake and suggested we make it one evening. After a dash round several supermarkets, we found no mascarpone cheese. I still haven’t found any yet, but hoping Waitrose will stock it when I next go looking. The challenge was finding a recipe which would unlock his taste memory. After a few searches, we settled upon a simple recipe which we could adapt.

Here’s how we either adapted the recipe or suggest you should alter for your version:
60g butter (recipe says 50g but it needed a tad more)
500g soft cheese (we’d recommend making this with mascarpone cheese)
If you’re sticking to the soft cheese, use 120g of icing sugar rather than 40g
3 limes (recipe only used two but it needed more of a kick)
250g gingernut biscuits
Topping – some dark chocolate grated on top

And the verdict?! Well I thought it was pretty fab actually! My friend was searching for his taste memory though and so was a little disappointed because it didn’t taste the same as when you use mascarpone. However, my flatmate taste testers concluded it was delicious and despite being full from an evening meal out, they couldn’t help but sneak slices from the fridge! Give it a try and let me know what you think. If you know places which stock mascarpone, keep me posted. I might start a stockpile…

Postcard from Italy – breakfasts and bread fatigue

Italian breakfast in MateraI have recently returned from a fabulous holiday in Southern Italy visiting Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, World Heritage site Matera and trendy university town Lecce. I thought I would share a few of my sugary breakfast experiences. This is a pic of the delicious breakfast I feasted on, hosted in the limestone cave of our hotel in the Sassi region of Matera. Starting with fresh watermelon, I ate yummy pastries filled with custard, jam and chocolate (if I got there early enough). This was all washed down with blood red orange juice. And if that wasn’t enough, I could nibble on foccacia bread with sun blushed tomatoes!

Our first breakfast experience was possibly the best and most authentic of the trip though. We flew into Naples late at night and the next morning grabbed some breakfast before the journey to Sorrento. We popped into a patisserie with rows upon rows of fresh pastries. I literally didn’t know what to choose! In the end my friend chose the best chocolate croissant I have ever tasted and I plumped for a pastry which was similar to a French palmier. Warmed up, the chocolate croissant was a river of milk hazelnut chocolate inside – i was a gooey mess! Trying my first Italian macchiato and my best chocolate croissant I was in heaven! Must admit though, by the end of the trip I had eaten more bread in ten days than I would normally do in six months. It was all delicious but I was glad to get back to my cereal for breakfast! I would definitely recommend a visit to Southern Italy, and Matera and Lecce were very authentic, hardly any tourists to be seen. Let me know if you need any hotel recommendations!

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