Camping and Carrot Cake

For the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling good about the fact that I’ve actually managed to plan, write, and schedule the week’s posts¬†in advance. Productive, on top of things, organised, all sorts of other good and virtuous words I don’t normally apply to myself.

And then something went wrong this week. I mean, I still managed to plan, write, and schedule them, but...

But, my Friday post, about Marshmallows and chocolate tasting somehow, I still don’t know how, managed to be scheduled for last Friday. For two days before I wrote it. My writing day is Sunday, you see. I’m still surprised I didn’t get a pop-up box going “Really? You want to schedule this for THE PAST?! Have you a time-machine or something?”

However, such happened, and I managed to be so silly, and so, instead, I’m going on my camping trip with carrot cake, because I’ve already eaten the marshmallows. A carrot and mango cake, derived from the wonderful Delia’s Cake book.

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(Almost) According to Delia: Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to bake. To be fair, actually, making these cookies was Mark’s idea, and he did most of the work. He wanted biscuits, I found the recipe. We had to scavenge ingredients from the cupboard because he decided to bake at 10pm. I think he turned into the Cookie Monster. Oh, and he didn’t manage to make the 28 Delia suggests the recipe makes. Mark made a whole 6.

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Ingredients:

110g softened butter – we used just under 100g melted cacao butter

150g soft light brown sugar – we only had the dark

1 large egg, beaten

1 tsp vanilla essence

175g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarb. of soda

75g chopped hazelnuts – we skipped these: none in the cupboards

100g chocolate chips, mixed or single variety your choice

How to:

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

Make your man read the recipe. You might want to too, just in case.

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Mark didn’t. He put everything bar the egg and melted butter in a bowl and then poured in the butter as I stirred. Then we beat in the egg.

You’re supposed to beat the butter and sugar, then add in the egg and vanilla essence, then fold in the flour and other ingredients.

However you choose to do it, then you put blobs of mix on your baking tray and flatten them slightly.

Bake for approx. 15 minutes until golden brown and feel firm in the centre when pressed lightly.

Testing these shortly after they were done, and before they were sufficiently cooled leads me to suspect it doesn’t matter if you follow Mark’s or Delia”s method of mixing ingredients. Most tasty, and definitely the sort of chewy cookies supermarket bakeries offer. Actually, very tasty with the still-melted chocolate chips in the middle.

According to Delia: Squidgy Chocolate Cake

Sometimes, cake is needed, but the time and energy required for most cakes is a bit lacking. Sometimes, a key ingredient is lacking, and the effort involved in fetching more is just too much.

I’m currently kitten-sitting a couple of very needy kittens (although, at nearly two, they probably aren’t kittens any longer) for my parents – honestly, whoever said that all cats are supercilious hasn’t met these two, who have been greatly loved and indulged all their lives – and I’ve found myself in a kitchen without cake-flour.

Fortunately, Delia, in her How to Cook series, has a very quick, simple, no-flour-needed, recipe for chocolate cake. Never mind the 5-minute microwave mug cake, this one takes very little longer, when all the prep. time is included, and makes individual cakes.

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Ingredients:

3 eggs, separated

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tbsp sugar

How To:

Pre-heat the oven to 180C and lightly grease four ramekins. I skipped this bit, and they haven’t come out cleanly…

Briskly whisk the egg yolks and sugar for about a minute, then fold in the cocoa powder. Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold one tablespoon into the yolk-mix, then fold in the rest.

Divide between the ramekins and pop them in the oven for about 12 minutes. I think mine were a little overdone – they should still wobble slightly.

Allow to cool, tip out of the ramekins and serve as preferred. Delia had a recipe for some prune-cream thing. I’m just eating them…

(Almost) According to Delia: Spiced Cranberry Muffins

Apparently, it only takes one trip to IKEA for Mark to fall in love with all things Swedish. Well, that and a couple of bags of kanelbullar. Which is entirely fair enough. Kanelbullar are very delicious.

Me, I like the display homes they have in IKEA. It’s the nosy curious part of me. Looking at people’s homes. And IKEA do so much better displays than most other furniture or DIY shops. The first time I visited IKEA was when I lived in Sweden as a student. It’s more fun when there’s a chance of actually furnishing a home.

The reason I bring this up is because one of the ingredients in these cakes was found in the food-hall on our way out. I do like the IKEA food-halls. Anyway, I picked up a jar of lingonberry jam, which I’m using as a substitute for both the egg and the cranberries.

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I know: all cakes look the same like this…

Ingredients:

150g plain flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 level dessertspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

zest and juice of 1 lge orange (I just used a splish of orange essence)

1 lge egg (1 tbs jam)

75g golden caster sugar

1 tbsp milk (I used water)

50g butter, melted (cacao butter)

225g cranberries (another spoon or two of jam)

glace icing to decorate

How to make:

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6 and line a muffin-tray with cases. Delia thinks this makes 6, I got a round dozen.

In one bowl, sift the flour, spices, baking powder and salt. In another, mix the orange zest, juice, egg, sugar and butter. Fold the one into the other (preferably dry into wet). Try not to beat or stir too much, just fold. Fold in the cranberries and spoon into muffin cases.

Bake for 25-30 minutes and leave to cool on a wire-rack before icing.

(Almost) According to Delia: Family Cake

(There’d be a photo, but my camera died at an inopportune moment.)

This is the sort of fruity Madeira cake that gets made for picnics, or packed lunches, or afternoon tea. The sort that is really tasty with a cup of tea.

I did a little experimenting with it, and not just my normal experimentation with apple sauce or bananas. I figured that since apple sauce is kinda like jam, I’d use some elderflower and gooseberry I had in the fridge. I don’t know why I buy jams, since I don’t tend to put it on my toast. Somehow they seem to gather, and breed. But I thought I’d see how it works as an egg replacement in cake.

So. Family Cake.

275g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

225g spreadable butter (coconut oil)

225g caster sugar

4 large eggs (4 large spoons of jam)

a few drops of almond essence (orange essence)

110g dried fruits + 25g glace cherries, sliced (candied peel)

Sprinkling of demerara sugar and flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Grease and line a tin – Delia reckons a 20cm x 26cm tin, but I only have normal circular ones, so whatever you’ve got will probably work.

So. Sieve the flour and baking powder. Then just mix in the butter, sugar, eggs and essence until you get a a creamy consistency, then add in the dried fruits.

Pour into the baking tin and sprinkle the demerara sugar and flaked almonds across the top. I’ll admit, I forgot these until after I’d put it in the oven. However.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the centre is springy to touch.

(Almost) According to Delia: the Sponge Cake

It’s a classic, is the humble Sponge. The basic recipe, for a simple yet delicious cake, from which all others are simply variations. If you know a good recipe for a Sponge, you’re set for life when it comes to cakes.

When I was allowed to bake unaccompanied (I have a feeling my mother didn’t know. Or my dad was the one in charge that day and he was out hedging, probably), the first recipe I remember using was one of Delia’s, from her How to Cook series. I had a habit then, as now when I can, of adding in all sorts of sweet and sickly extras (although, I never tried all-sorts in my cakes). Terribly sweet-toothed as a child. Less so now, after the no-sugar experiments.

But anyway. The humble Sponge Cake. Light, delicate, and extremely versatile. This one, as requested by Mark, has fewer changes made: the only important deviation was switching out the stated vanilla for some Sicilian lemon. I’m not sure how this has been able to happen but my pantry has been allowed to run out of vanilla. So I had to substitute quickly. And with my planned toppings of raspberry and mango (if it will ripen in the next few hours, please!) I figured lemon would go nicely.

As always, the preferred size tin is smaller than my smallest, which is a 9″ diameter one; Delia would prefer you use a 7″ one. Mine might turn out to be a one-layer cake, slathered in whipped cream and topped with the aforementioned fruits.Oh well!

The mango did not ripen in time...

The mango did not ripen in time…

Ingredients:

115g/4oz self-raising flour (actually, I used plain)

1 level tsp baking powder (mine was heaped, because of the flour)

115g/4oz spreadable butter

115g/4oz golden caster sugar (again, I used what was in my cupboard, which was ordinary caster)

2 large eggs (I think mine were small, which might explain the need for a little milk)

1 tsp vanilla essence (like I said, I used Sicilian lemon)

Jam and/or whipped cream to sandwich

How to Make:

Pre-heat the oven to 170C/Gas Mark 3 and grease and line your tin. If you’ve got the little ones, you’ll need two. Otherwise, one will do.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, then add in the other ingredients. If you’ve got a food processor, use that until it’s a creamy consistency. If you don’t, you’re in good company: I don’t either. We need to apply a little old-fashioned elbow-grease and mix with a wooden spoon until it reaches the proper cake-batter consistency. If, like me, you find it’s a bit hard-going, you might benefit from the addition of a splash of milk. Not too much!

Pour into the tin or tins and pop in the oven for about half an hour. Allow to cool on a wire-rack and decorate as desired. Traditionally, one sandwiches the two halves together with jam (strawberry or raspberry) and whipped cream, if you’re feeling decadent. If you used a single large tin, you might decide that it would be a bit thin to slice in two, in which case one layer, lots of topping!