Carrot Cake Take 2 or Eat It and Weep

Happily, the price of creating edible failures in the kitchen is having to make them again. After all, there’s no way to tell what lessons have been learned without repeating the exercise. I knew when I finished my novel, that even if it wasn’t picked up by a publisher, I would still have to write another, to prove what I had learned.

Bearing in mind the vast quantity of walnuts I ate during the failed experiment, I had to give it a few days before restarting the investigation.

I knew this particular recipe would work, since it is based on the one used by the famous author, Jane Isaac in place of Christmas cake (buy her book, An Unfamiliar Murder, here). She has clearly been through many recipes over the years, in an attempt to find the best ever rendition of her favourite cake, and has taken a combination of Delia’s cake (thank you, Delia) and someone else’s topping. And, quite frankly, if it’s good enough for the elegant Ms Isaac, then it’s damn fine for me!

Except that I can’t use a recipe without altering things. I expect it’s a pathological symptom of some personality malfunction. Dysfunction. Whatever.

Here goes:

The Bastard Child of Jane Isaac’s Carrot Cake.

The number of eggs that gets you as close as possible to 200g eggs (without shells).

The same amount of sugar  (my eggs came to 221g so that’s how much sugar I put in). I used two thirds molasses, one third white. Is supposed to be soft brown.

120ml melted butter (should be sunflower oil).

Whisk the above till you have a smooth batter.

Sift in 175g white self raising flour (should’ve been wholemeal), and make the 221g up with bran. Didn’t have wholemeal.

Also add 3 rounded tsps mixed spice at this juncture.

You’re supposed to add 3tsp bicarb too, but I don’t like the taste, and with the balance of eggs to dry ingredients, it ought to rise anyway.

Fold in and beat like … Like … Well just beat it really hard, you need lots of air in there.

Add in 200g grated carrot, 75g sultanas soaked for so long in brandy, a tablespoon of marmalade and 100g chopped walnuts (should be 175g sultanas, some orange zest and no nuts).

And again, beat like you know what.

Pour into two lined, greased tins and bake for 35-40 mins on a mere 170deg C.

Make a syrup (Jane recommends using juice from half an orange, a tblsp lemon juice and 40g dark brown sugar) out of a scant tablespoon of marmalade, some extra sugar and some water.

When the cakes come out of the oven, stab some holes in ’em and scopp the syrup over.


Take one tub of philly, sift about 4 tablespoons of icing sugar in there and about a teaspoon of marmalade. Whip up about 4 tbsp double cream, and fold that in.

Some for the middle, some for the top, not too much (it’s really sweet) and you’ve got a perfect gorgeous example of what carrot cake should be. Not too sweet, not dry, lovely and moist and moreish.

Now feast your eyes:

Carrot Cake









And the lessons learned regarding the other carrot cake? We … ell … okay, I would guess that flour was the main issue. But that was hardly my fault! Ha. No lessons learned here today!

Carrot Cake Take 1

I’ve spent the day being hugely productive, although I don’t feel as though I’ve achieved anything much. Looking back, I did 2.5 hours working in home care, 3.5 hours writing for money, 4 hours trying to figure out Twitter, and another 2 hours this evening working, followed by a 45 minute telephone conversation and an experimental carrot cake (these last two simultaneously). The rest of the time was wasted, but in a ‘now’ way. Consciously enjoying the feeling of being present.

I guess I feel a little incomplete today, but not in any negative way. I think it is the Twitter effect. It jangles my head, a little like being in a crowd of people. I’m not great in crowds. Makes me uneasy, which is another way I want to describe the feeling. People come at you from all angles. It’s a new bullet to bite. Bit like trying to bite the bullets from an AK47.

Anyhow, the important bit was the carrot cake. Bear with me. I need to cut into it, decide if its worth icing, ice it (if applicable), and present it to my camera.

<<cue lift music>>

Okay. I don’t mind showing disasters, but honestly, this one isn’t worth a photo.carrot cake disaster See? (There’s only half of it there – the rest came off in my fingers … said the Actress to the Bishop).

If it wasn’t for the wonderful flavours, I wouldn’t entertain it again.

It tastes of cinnamon, allspice, earthy walnut (bottom notes) and a sweet coffee/maple over-note. There’s even a strongly accented bourbon. None of the above are in the recipe.

The whole thing was probably around 1200 calories in all (mainly the nuts), not bad for a cake. No flour (so edging on gluten free), no fat, just eggs, sugar and carrots.

The next time I make this, it will be a pudding in a basin. Maybe steam it. It’ll even go with a rum sauce.

Carrot Cake Weirdness, courtesy of Rose Elliot’s Book of Cakes (with a few differences) circa  1984.

Oven on 180 deg C. Separate two eggs into two different bowls. add 30g molasses/super dark sugar, 70g white caster sugar to the yolks and whisk or stick blend till light.

Chop 100g walnuts into bits and add that and 100g grated carrot to the mix. Beat together.

Whisk the egg whites until they’re foamy and stand up in peaks.

By hand, do this by repeatedly whisking the foam. Never dig deeply to the bottom where the remaining liquid white is as it slows progress. If it was going to foam it would have already done so.

Fold in the egg whites to the rest of the cake mixture evenly. One of my major mistakes was distributing the foam with most of it on one side. I was scared of accidentally beating the air out. One side of the cake rose; the other didn’t.

Pour it into a greased/lined 20cm tin (I will never do it this way again) or into a super-greased pudding basin and bake for around 30 minutes.

Tomorrow: carrot cake take 2.