Carrot Cake

This is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe. I reduced the size by 60% and it still provides enough for a reasonable (but not greedy) eight portions. I also cut down the butter and sugar by 20%, used wholemeal instead of white flour, and added some raisins:CarrotCakeTile

  • 80g butter (softened)
  • 80g soft brown sugar
  • 70g plain wholemeal flour
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs (separated)
  • Zest and juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 40g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 100g coarsely grated  carrots
  • A small handful of raisins
  • Mascarpone icing (half this quantity with lime juice and zest)

Preheat the oven to (180C or gas mark 4).

Line a small loaf tin (mine was 20×10 cms) with silicone paper. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy.

Sift together the flour, the baking powder and the mixed spice.

Beat the egg whites until stiff, using the electric whisk.

Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, with a little flour and add the orange zest and juice. Then mix in the remaining flour, ground almonds, walnuts, grated carrot and the raisins, making sure all the ingredients are well combined. Then gently fold the egg whites into the cake mix.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes, longer if necessary.

When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to stand for about 10 minutes, and turn out (so the cake is upside-down) onto a cooling rack. When thoroughly cool, ice the ‘top’ of the cake. ENJOY!

 

 

 

Potato and cheese dumpling topping

Potato_Dumplings.

If you’re after comfort food in this cold weather, here’s a quick recipe for topping a casserole or even a couple of tins of baked beans. My casserole was made from onions, garlic, chilli, celery, carrots, butternut squash and tinned tomatoes. But this would also suit a beef stew. I think chicken might be better without the cheese – in that case, I’d leave out the cheese and substitute double cream for the milk (to maintain the fat content), or use soft cheese instead of grated cheddar (and initially add less milk, so that the mixture is not too wet). Enough for 3 people:

  • 250g mashed potato made with 30g of butter
  • 120g wholemeal flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 60g finely grated cheddar
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 90ml milk

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Mix in the grated cheese and parsley. Mix in the mashed potato using a fork until it is well integrated.

Heat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4). Your casserole or beans etc needs to be hot so heat on the hob or in the microwave if cold.

Mix the milk into the dumpling mixture, and using your hands, place golf ball sized pieces of dough on top of the casserole.

Cook in the oven for 20 minutes until the dumplings are risen and starting to brown.

Serve as it is – nothing more is required!

Soda bread

Something based on an Irish recipe for St Patrick’s Day.

Soda_Bread_Tile1

This is adapted from a recipe by Elizabeth David in English Bread And Yeast Cookery. This amount makes one small loaf (enough for 4 people). It is an easy way of producing homemade bread in a short time.

Soda bread is leavened chemically – a much quicker alternative to yeast leavening, using the reaction of soda (an alkali) and yogurt and lemon juice (acid). It is essential to keep these two ingredients apart until you are ready to bake the bread.

  • 300g plain wholemeal flour
  • 3/5 of a level tsp of bicarbonate of soda
  • 140ml natural yogurt
  • 140ml milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Warm water (if the mixture is too dry)

Heat the oven to 230C (Gas Mark 8). You will also need a floured baking tray and large heatproof glass basin (to cover the loaf in the oven – this promotes a steamy atmosphere which helps the loaf to rise).

Sift the flour and soda together in a large mixing bowl.

In a jug, mix the yogurt, milk, lemon juice and olive oil.

Pour the liquid into the flour and mix as quickly as possible (add warm water if necessary – you need a dough which will stand up on its own, but which is not too crumbly).

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and form into a round, making it as high as possible.

Place on the floured baking tray, and cut a cross in the top with a sharp knife.

Cover with the large heatproof glass basin and place in the oven for 30 minutes. It will be cooked when a skewer inserted into the loaf, comes out clean. If the loaf needs some further time to cook, remove the glass basin and return to the oven until cooked.

Allow to cool before serving. It’s delicious warm with butter. Freezes well, and can be revived in the microwave.

Served here with chicken liver paté.

 

Butternut squash and ginger muffins

A squash based muffin recipe. These are low sugar and low fat, but I still think a quite acceptable as a ‘sweet cake’. Makes 12 small muffins:

  • 12 small muffin casesButternut_Muffins
  • 40ml light olive oil
  • 40ml milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 400g (previously roasted) butternut squash (skin and seeds removed)
  • 1 tbsp finely grated root ginger
  • 200g wholemeal plain flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 60g light soft brown sugar
  • 75g raisins

Place the muffin cases in a muffin baking tin.

Heat the oven to 210C (Gas Mark 7).

Liquidise the oil, milk, eggs, squash and ginger.

Sieve together the flour, baking powder and sugar, into a large bowl, and stir in the raisins

Pour the liquid ingredients into the bowl and whisk the contents together.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for about 15 minutes until cooked.

Onion focaccia

FocacciaTileThis is based on a recipe in ‘Muffins scones and breads’ in the Austrailan Women’s Weekly cookbook series. There is enough for 6 as an accompaniment to soup or salad. It’s fairly quick to make as it requires only one rising.

  • 1&1/2  tsp dried yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 220ml warm (blood heat) water
  • 150g strong plain flour
  • 150g wholemeal flour
  • 35g Italian hard cheese (this is the ‘cheap version‘ of parmesan), finely grated
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small red onion (finely sliced)
  • Sea salt

Mix the yeast and sugar with 100ml of the warm water. Cover, and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes until it starts to ferment.

Meanwhile sift the flours together into a large mixing bowl. When the yeast is ready, warm the flour briefly in the microwave (say, 20 seconds on high).

Mix the cheese and herbs into the flour, add the yeast mixture and 2 tbsp of the olive oil, and a further 100g of the water. Mix to a soft, but manageable, dough. If too dry add further water (if too wet, knead in some more flour). Knead for about 5 minutes.

Roll out the dough and place it so that it covers a baking tray (I used one 30cm square). Cover and leave in a warm place to rise (until it has doubled in depth).

Heat the oven to 220C (gas mark 8). Spread the onion slices over the top, and sprinkle with sea salt and the remaining olive oil.

Bake for about 25 minutes. Pleace on a wire rack to cool.

Banana bread

Banana_Bread_vertThe very hot weather had resulted in some very ripe bananas, so I made this banana bread – probably enough for 8 people for ‘tea’. The high banana content means that added sugar can be minimised:

  • Silicone baking parchment
  • 250g wholemeal flour
  • 3.5 tsps (generous) baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g butter
  • 50g soft brown sugar (sifted)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 very ripe medium sized bananas (mashed with a fork)
  • 2 tbsp milk

Pre-heat the oven to 180C (Gas Mark 4).

Line a bread tin (I used one 23x13x7cm) with baking parchment (or greased greaseproof paper).

Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl.

In another (large) bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (I used a handheld mixer).

Add the eggs, mashed bananas, and milk, and continue to mix. If the mixture curdles, add 2 tbsp of the flour mix and continue beating.

Fold in the remaining flour, and spoon the mixture into the lined bread tin.

Bake for about 1 hour until risen and golden brown (take a look after 45 minutes).

Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

I sliced mine, ate some and froze the remaining slices.