… suddenly it’s summer (although as I write this there is a darkish grey looking cloud looming over the horizon.) There has been blue skies for more than 2 days and the sun has been proper hot. The lads have got there shirts off at the pub and the girls have their summer dresses and flip-flops on. Of course this also means that the tube is stinky and full of sweaty armpits but you can’t have everything. London can be incredible in the sunshine but also a bit of a stink-hole. Everyone wants to be on a roof-top bar or in the park and rightly so but it means that finding your own little patch can be a little tricky. It does mean that there’s always an empty table inside at your favourite drinking hole if you don’t mind being the only people not squeezed out onto the pavement. Fortunately this week The Viking and I had to travel up to Scotland to visit a new gin client called Caorunn. They’re a small, premium gin brand who pride themselves on the Scottish botanicals they use in the distillery process that include Rowan Berry, Dandelion and Could Blush Apple. Their distillery was up in the Cairngorms, surrounded by the glory of the Scottish Highlands. It was an incredible trip as we drove through the quite lanes and up over the heather-covered hills. We saw deer and eagles as well as sampling the local cuisine (and plenty of gin of course!) We stayed at a delightful little hotel called The Muckrach and if you’re ever in this part of the world you must stop by for their divine food… it was the classic Scottish experience… hot smoked salmon, haggis and of course the obligatory piper announcing dinner.
coconut and carrot cake
this is my favourite carrot cake… it’s full of goodies such as nuts and dried fruit but it also has desiccated coconut, coconut sugar and coconut oil which makes it suitably rich and moist. I’ve also used a little bit of Grand Marnier in the syrup, you can leave this out of course but you’d be a fool! For some reason in my mind I always thing carrot cake is a ‘healthy’ cake but i’m not fooling anyone really, just because it’s made with vegetables doesn’t deny the fact that it’s got a heap-load of sugar in it… don’t get me wrong, i’m not complaining… it’s a glorious cake and although it has quite a few ingredients it’s so easy to make and it really doesn’t take long.
for the cake
- 100g self raising wholemeal flour (or plain flour plus 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda)
- 50g plain flour
- 50g ground almonds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 100g coconut sugar (or dark brown sugar)
- 50g dark muscovado sugar
- 200ml coconut oil
- 3 medium eggs
- 225g finely grated carrot
- 50g desiccated coconut
- 50g mixed nuts and raisins (I also added a tablespoon of slithered almonds)
for the syrup
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
- the juice of half an orange
- 2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
for the cream cheese icing
- 200g cream cheese
- 150g icing sugar
- the finely grated rind of one orange
- half the juice of one orange
pre-heat the oven to 160C and grease and line your cake tins – I used two 20cm loose-bottom tins
sift the flour, spices and if using baking powder and bicarb together into a large bowl and set aside, then in another bowl beat the sugars, eggs and oil until light and fluffy, then pour the eggs and oil into the flour mix and stir together well.
add the carrots, coconut and the rest of the ingredients and mix together well then pour the batter evenly between the cake tins and bake for 1 hour or until light and spongy and a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean
whilst it’s baking, place the syrup ingredients in a bowl and blast them in the microwave for 3 mins until the sugar has melted – stir and set aside
remove from the oven and prick the cakes all over with a skewer and then gently pour the syrup all over the cakes then allow to cool completely in the tins
to make the icing, combine all the ingredients into a smooth paste with an electric whisk until firm and then smother the top of one of the cakes with a third of the icing then lay the other cake on top and smother the whole lot in glorious icing
eat and of course, enjoy!