Saturday, 28 September 2013

Carrot cake

Vic and Nyree have asked for this recipe and this is as good a way to share as any.  I'm going to tell you how I made it and also tell you about the bit I left out.  It's a Jo Wheatley recipe.

  • 300g soft brown sugar - I think I used a mixture of light muscovado and golden granulated.
  • 250ml sunflower oil - I used corn oil because that's what I use in muffin recipes so it's always in the cupboard
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • pinch of salt
  • 250g carrots coarsely grated
  • 150g pecans chopped (I put them in a bag and bashed them with a rolling pin)
  • zest of half an orange - I use a zester and then chop the zest because I think you get more zest this way than if you use a grater
Orange syrup (I didn't do this bit)
  • juice of half a large orange
  • 20g caster sugar (if I had done this I would have used granulated)
  • 400g cream cheese - recipe says full fat and that's what I used because if you've having cake I don't see the point in low calorie stuff but I guess you could use low fat version
  • 100g icing sugar - you can reduce this quantity if you want slightly less sweet frosting and I did use less
  • zest and juice of half an orange
  • pecan halves to decorate if you can be bothered - I couldn't
  • Grease a rectangular tin 20cm x 25cm or thereabouts.  Line with baking parchment and grease the baking parchment.  This is always a faff but better to do this than have a cake that cannot be removed from the tin.
  • Depending on how long your oven takes to heat up, and how long you take to mix things, preheat oven to 180˚C for a non fan oven or 160˚C for a fan oven.  If you have a gas oven it's gas mark 4 or for an Aga you're on your own.
  • Mix the sugar and the oil.  I used a mixer and wasn't quite sure what this should look like.  I stopped when it looked like it had combined.
  • Add the eggs and mix until smooth.  I mixed this for quite a while but it wasn't ever really smooth, more smooth-ish.
  • Fold in flour, mixed spice and salt.
  • Add grated carrot, pecans and orange zest and mix until combined.  The point here is not to mix the living daylights out of it, so use a spoon and be gentle.
  • Spoon into baking tin and cook for about 40 minutes.  Check it with the skewer test.  Jo uses a wooden skewer but I use a metal skewer.  I don't know which is best or even whether it matters.
  • If you are going to do the orange syrup (which I didn't) then while the cake is in the oven, heat the orange juice and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid has reduced by one third.
  • Brush the warm cake with the orange syrup and then leave the cake to cool.
  • While the cake is cooling you can make the frosting by beating cream cheese, orange juice, icing sugar and orange zest together.  Beat this for quite a while until smooth.  I think I might have beaten it for too long as the mixture was sliding around the metal bowl without leaving a trail on the bowl.  It was also struggling not to slide off the top of the cake.  The orange syrup, being sticky, might help with this.
  • Spread the frosting over the cooled cake and decorate with pecans if you want to.
  • I cut this into 12 slices but I was told the slices were quite big (I thought they were just fine).

Saturday, 7 September 2013

A letter to my MP

I've just sent this email to my MP.

Dear Eric Pickles,

Michael Gove has reportedly insisted that children need their own bedroom in order to be able to fulfil their potential. He expressed concern for children from poorer families who were forced to share a room.

Iain Duncan-Smith has pushed ahead with the implementation of the "bedroom tax" which insists that children under ten should share a room and children over the age of ten are required to share a room where the children are of the same gender.

Can you please tell me what the Government policy is in this regard. Is it that children from poorer families should expect to fail to reach their potential, or is it that children from poorer families should be given every opportunity to fulfil their potential?

I look forward to your clarification on this issue.

Yours sincerely,

Ann Cardus (Mrs)