During rugby season, from August through to April (or this year it feels like it will take an actual year due to sooooooo many matches being re-scheduled!!) my hubbie is busy on Saturdays playing rugger. Due to this we can’t go for long weekends away. My hubbie is pretty dedicated to his team and to rugby (so much so that we had to schedule our wedding outwith the rugby season!!!). Anyway as you can probably tell I’m a bit of a rugby widow during this period as well as being a taxi service to pick up my sometimes intoxicated hubbie from the club. However, this Saturdays match was cancelled and hubbie arranged, literally at the last minute a weekend visit to our good friends in Tain in the Scottish Highlands. This was serendipitous as I had been speaking to another blogger about enjoying visiting the Highlands and Islands just a few days before…….. spooky.
Given that we were leaving about 4:30pm on Friday and I was told Thursday Evening (I also had a 2 hour hair appointment scheduled) I didn’t have a huge amount of time to bake a “thank you for having us Prezzie”. So, I turned to an old, simple classic that I could make in my sleep, Carrot Cake. Its a favourite of my hubbies (he asked for a double carrot cake as his birthday cake) and I also had all the ingredients, apart from the cream cheese, available so no need to have to do a shop before baking.
The original recipe came from the Women’s Institute, in a book called “The Womans Institute Vintage Teatime” by Jessica Simmons, however I made some simple alterations to suit. Can’t beat a vintage recipe!
So very early on the Friday morning ( well not really it was probably about 8am) I gathered the ingredients:
180 grams softened butter, 110 grams brown sugar, 2 eggs, 250 grams Self Raising flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 25 grams mixed peel or you could use marmalade or even apricot jam should work, Zest of one orange, 230 grams of grated carrots ( more than 3 shown in the photo were needed in fact it was about 6 of small-medium sized carrots), juice of one orange that equates to 5 tablespoons or you can use milk instead, 60 grams raisins. Ignore the vanilla in the photo I was going to use it then didn’t, well not until the frosting.
Now as far as possible I use local produce or Scottish, so I used locally milled flour, local organic eggs, Scottish Milk and butter and also organic carrots from the farm hubby works on, but you can use whatever you prefer.
Preheat the oven to 180°c/ 350°F and grease an 8 inch round cake tin. Cream the butter and brown sugar together, then whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and add to the sugar/butter mixture.
In a separate bowl sieve the flour and the cinnamon together then add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix. Then add the peel, orange zest and raisins and mix well.
At this point I take the bowl off my stand mixture and fold in the grated carrots by hand, which is hard work for a weakling like me! Definitely works the guns!
At this point add either the orange juice or milk ( which ever you prefer) about 5 tablespoons so that the mixture is slightly wetter and more of a dropping consistency. Looks a bit like coleslaw, but believe me it tastes delicious- feel free to lick the bowl at this point to convince yourself it is not coleslaw!
Then pour mixture into your tin and bake for about 40 minutes. It may take 5 or so minutes longer, but it ready as long as a cake tester or knife comes out clean.
After taking the cake out the oven, I left it until it was cool enough to remove from the tin and then placed on a wire rack to continue to cool. I then went away for my hair appointment and to pick up some cream cheese and flowers.
3 1/2 hours later………………..back home with my new hair do perfectly straightened and all grey hairs and brown roots now blonde.
I start on the frosting for which I use a basic cream cheese recipe………..
170 grams of margarine. I have found that I simply cannot get a hold of using butter for frosting. Every time I use butter and try to cream it with the cheese, it never creams properly and leaves bits of butter in the mixture. I think that my kitchen is so cold at this time of the year ( the heating is on, but the kitchen is an extension that in winter retains the cold) that whilst leaving the butter out will soften it, it doesn’t soften it enough to make a smooth frosting. As a result , I always use margarine for my own sanity, but please use what you prefer.
Then cream the margarine with about 180 grams of cream cheese until smooth. I start off adding 110 grams of icing sugar, but then add about 5 tablespoons more of icing sugar and beat to get the right consistency. I know I know, I should just work out the total amount of grams and weigh out the correct amount of icing sugar from the start, but hey I have a system and I’ve already been traumatised by the butter incident!
Also at the same time as adding the icing sugar, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla. The mixture should not be runny, more like whipped cream. You want to be able to spread it on the cake, without it running all over the sides!
You can add more decoration in the form of fondant carrots, but I don’t normally bother.
The cake went down very well after a lovely walk and after watching Scotland beat Italy in the Six Nations!