Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

This moist, dense cake is an oldie but a goodie.

It goes down well with adults as it’s not too sweet and it’s a great way to get the kids to eat some veggies too.

I like to be able to see the carrot pieces so I use quite a coarse grater. Use a smaller one if you’d like them hidden!

Ingredients

  • 450g grated carrot
  • 150g plain flour
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¾ tsp bicarb of soda
  • 175 ml vegetable oil
  • 200g brown sugar
  • 50ml golden syrup
  • 4 eggs

Equipment

  • 20cm round baking tins
  • baking paper
  • sieve
  • mixing bowls
  • scales
  • teaspoon (tsp)
  • measuring jug
  • grater
Nutmeg
I <3 nutmeg. I think it’s my favourite spice.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170˚C (gas mark 3) & grease and line the base of a 20cm round baking tin.
  2. Grate the carrot and put aside.
  3. Sift the flours, spices and bicarbonate of soda together in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk the vegetable oil, sugar, syrup and eggs together in a separate bowl.
  5. Gradually add the egg, sugar & oil mix to the flour, stirring well until completely combined. There should be no flour visible.
  6. Stir in the carrot, again until completely combined. All the carrot should be covered in cake mixture.
  7. Scrape the mixture into the tin and roughly level the surface.
  8. Bake for 1 hour and test for doneness with a wooden skewer which should come out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven, leave to cool in the tin for 15 mins, then turn out onto a rack.

Notes

Use either Brown Sugar Fudge Frosting or Swiss Meringue Buttercream to fill and cover the cake. If you’re covering the cake with fondant the Swiss Meringue Buttercream is best because it’s more stable.

Sometimes I leave the golden syrup out all together. It makes it less sweet but that’s not a bad thing if you’re using the Brown Sugar Fudge Frosting.

Brown Sugar Fudge Frosting

Perfect as a soft filling for carrot cake or chocolate mud cake.Brown Sugar Fudge Frosting

Not stable enough to use with a shaped or tiered cake, but, if you add another 100g of icing sugar you could use it for a single layer under fondant.

Also yummy piped on cupcakes, again with the extra icing sugar added for stability.

Ingredients

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 60ml milk
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment

  • sieve
  • electric mixer with bowl
  • saucepan

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat.
  2. Add the sugar and stir until fully dissolved.
  3. Add the milk and bring to the boil.
  4. Pour into the bowl of a standing mixer and leave to cool for 15 mins.
  5. When the butter sugar mix is cool, stir in the icing sugar and vanilla then beat for 10 mins.
  6. Leave the icing for another 30 mins then beat again before using to ice your cake.

This makes enough to cover and fill a 20cm cake.

Notes

Wrap a tea towel round the top of your mixer (over the bowl) to stop all the icing sugar going everywhere. :-)

The longer you leave your icing between steps 5 and 6 the ‘fudgier’ it will be.

Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake

This beautiful cake is perfect for tea time or any time.

The recipe here is from the southern states of America and uses oil instead of butter as well as a whole lot of red colouring.

It’s not too sweet so great for adults (and you might want to keep the kids away from so much red!)

Ingredients

  • 235ml canola oil
  • 225g raw caster sugar
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 25g unsweeetened cocoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp red paste food colouring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1 tsp vinegar

Equipment

  • 2 x 20cm round baking tins
  • baking paper
  • electric mixer
  • mixing bowl
  • scales
  • teaspoon (tsp)

Method

  1. reheat the oven to 170˚C & grease and line the base of two 20cm round baking tins.
  2. Put the oil and sugar into the mixer and beat until combined.
  3. Put the mixer on low speed and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition.
  4. Sift together the flour and cocoa in a separate bowl and place aside.
  5. Gradually add the buttermilk to the food colouring, stirring to dissolve the paste, then add the vanilla extract.
  6. Next, alternatively add the flour mixture and buttermilk in two batches, starting with the flour. Scrape the bowl between each addition and mix until fully combined.
  7. Mix together the bicarb and the vinegar in a small bowl (it fizzes), then immediately add to the mixer and beat for 15 seconds at medium speed.
  8. Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake for 40 mins until a skewer in the middle comes out clean.

Notes

Use either Cream Cheese Butter Icing or Swiss Meringue Buttercream to fill and cover the cake. If you’re covering the cake with fondant the Swiss Meringue Buttercream is best because it’s more stable.

Food colouring from the supermarket won’t cut it for this recipe.  You need concentrated paste food colourings like Sugarflair (which I sell here in my Facebook store) or Rainbow Dust Progel (which I haven’t tried yet but have heard great things about).

How To Bake A Level Topped Cake

(Or how to bake a cake that doesn’t crack on the top.)

If you bake cakes to cover in fondant or to make a layered cake one of the things you should always do is level the top of the cake.

Once the cake has cooled you can cut off the domed and cracked top. Then you eat the off-cuts or throw them away. Either way you feel bad. ;-)

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

The first thing you need to do is get one of these.

Oven Thermometer
Oven Thermometer

An oven thermometer.

Sometimes a cake cracks on the top because it cooks too fast (and therefore rises too quickly). This can happen if your oven is running too hot.

In my experience, very few ovens match the temperature you set. My current oven cooks at least 10°C hotter than it says on the temperature setting.

I only know this because I always use a thermometer.

Once you know your oven temperature is right you can try this one simple trick.

When you put the cake mixture in the cake tin put a piece of baking paper the same size as the tin on the top of the mixture.

Like this…

Red Velvet Cake Covered

Then bake as normal.

Simply draw round the bottom of the tin on a piece of baking paper to get a circle the right size, then cut it out and place it gently on the top of the mixture before you put it in the oven.

The paper sits on top of the cake mixture and evens out the rising so you end up with a flat topped cake that is super easy to level off.

Of course there are very few off cuts. Which can be a good thing.

Although to be honest in our house those crusty bits on the top are the bits my boys fight over.

 

Chocolate Ganache

BOUQUET_CORNER r1This is my go to icing for shaped and tiered cakes.

It sets firm and tastes delicious (because it’s chocolate and cream of course).

You can also use it (before it starts setting) to pour over cakes and cupcakes to get a mirror smooth finish for adding gumpaste flowers or butterflies.

Ingredients

  • 250g dark chocolate
  • 125ml thickened cream

Equipment

  • heatproof bowl
  • saucepan

Method

  1. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of just simmering water. Don’t let the bowl touch the water.
  2. Stir the chocolate gently until it’s completely melted.
  3. Remove the chocolate from the heat then pour in the cream.
  4. Stir gently until the chocolate and cream have mixed together and are smooth.
  5. Leave to cool to thick pouring consistency if you just want to pour it over the cake.
  6. Or leave until a spoon can stand up in the ganache (you might need to put it in the fridge for 30 minutes) for spreading or piping.

This makes enough to cover and fill a 20cm cake.

Notes

Most recipes suggest heating the cream and adding the chocolate to it but, in my experience (here in hot & humid Sydney Australia) more often than not this makes the ganache split.

Doing it the other way (as I’ve outlined above) means the chocolate is fully melted and the cream cools it down and is incorporated quickly so its much more stable.

Chocolate Mud Cake

Chocolate Cake DecoratedThis delicious cake is my best selling flavour because it’s moist, with a deep chocolate taste and it’s not too sweet. It’s also dense enough for carving if you want a shaped cake.

If you’re baking it for children leave out the coffee. They’ll be buzzing enough on the sugar!

Ingredients

  • 140ml water
  • 4 tsp instant coffee
  • 190g butter (cubed)
  • 190g dark chocolate pieces
  • 110g plain flour
  • 110g self-raising flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 420g caster sugar
  • 1½ tbsp canola oil
  • 95ml buttermilk
  • 3 eggs

Equipment

  • 20cm round baking tin
  • baking paper
  • medium sized saucepan
  • 2 x mixing bowls
  • scales
  • sieve
  • fork
  • teaspoon (tsp)
  • tablespoon (tbsp)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160˚C (gas mark 3) & grease and line the base of your 20cm round baking tin.
  2. Put the water, coffee (if using), butter & chocolate pieces in a pan then stir over a low heat until everything has melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Sieve the flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda together into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and make a well in the centre.
  4. Using a fork, mix together the oil, buttermilk & eggs in a separate bowl then add to the flour mix and stir with a large metal spoon.
  5. Add the chocolate mix and continue stirring until the mixture is smooth and completely combined.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin and cook for 1 hour 40 minutes. Start testing the cake using a skewer inserted into the centre at about 1 hour 20 minutes. The skewer should come out clean.
  7. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin before slicing or shaping.

Notes

Use either Chocolate Ganache or Chocolate Butter Icing to fill and cover the cake. If you’re covering the cake with fondant the Chocolate Ganache is best because it’s more stable.