Friday, February 26, 2010

Lisa and Stephen - BIRTHDAYS!

My brother Stephen in Australia and my friend Lisa here in the UK share birthdays today, the 26 February.  I don't often think about birthdays, but this year is special, as Lisa is 40.  She isn't too pleased about being 40, but I told her she's a 40 Carat Diamond.  This evening, I baked a cake for her, and all the time thinking of Stephen sweltering in Queensland.  I hope he has a really brilliant birthday.  I miss him very much, but he is so happy married to Margaret and healthy in Australia that I wouldn't wish his old life back on him.  God Bless you, Stephen.  I couldn't wish for a better, kinder, funnier and more caring brother.  I owe you more than you will know, and I'm thrilled to bits that you are so happy.  And thanks to Margaret who has done so much to make him happy.

I made a carrot cake for Lisa.  Its a 'second' cake.  Her friend Elaine is throwing her a surprise Party tomorrow afternoon, and as everyone is short of money, people are taking food and drink to bring and share.  Elaine ordered a proper birthday cake from a baker and it will look fabulous.  I have done my best with the carrot cake, but nobody will mistake it for the proper bakers cake.

The first layer is on the board and covered with cinnamon icing.


Then the second layer was put on


The whole thing covered in icing


And with the decoration


It is slightly lop sided.  I should have put the other side downwards on the bottom layer.  I was worried about transferring the cake from the board to the silver plate.  I put cling film around the board before I started icing the cake.  After a lot of thought, I decided to move the cake while the icing wasn't set so that it would be easy to patch up if something happened.  I slid two flat spoons under the cake and eased it ever so gently off the board and onto the plate thing.  I had to smooth the outside with a spatula, so its just as well I disturbed it before it set.

Its a lovely recipe.  When I made it last week ( as a dry run, so to speak ) I put raisins in as the recipe specified, but Michelle and Nigel didn't like them, so I omitted them this time.  Oh, and I used pecan nuts instead of walnuts.  I'll post the recipe below.  Its a great recipe and tastes better a day or two after baking, and it stays moist for ages.  I used fat free plain yoghurt instead of buttermilk.

When I was due to have Caelyn, I had to stay near Johannesburg Hospital because the obstetrician had some worries, and we lived a rough two hour drive away, and there were potholes and dirt roads for the first hour.  Besides, my husband could not drive and it wouldn't have been a good idea for me to drive whilst in labour, so we stayed in a caravan park near the hospital.  I made some of this cake to take with us because it lasts so well, and it was something Andy could give Michelle while I was in hospital, so making it again brings back old memories.  She is 24 now, so it was a long time ago.  But it is still just as good.

Carrot Cake


1.       3 eggs

2.       175ml (6 fl oz) buttermilk  ( I use fat free plain yoghurt )

3.       175ml (6 fl oz) vegetable oil

4.       300g (11oz) castor sugar

5.       2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6.       2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

7.       1/4 teaspoon salt

8.       250g (9oz) plain flour

9.       2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

10.   225g (8oz) grated carrots

11.   75g (3oz) desiccated coconut

12.   125g (4¼oz) chopped walnuts  ( I use pecans )

13.   1 (432g) can crushed pineapple with juice

14.   150g (5oz) raisins

Preparation method

1.       Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (gas mark 4). Grease and flour your cake tins. 

2.       In a medium bowl, sift together flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

3.       In a large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture and mix well.

4.       In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and raisins.

5.       Using a large wooden spoon or a very heavy whisk, add carrot mixture to batter and fold in well.

6.       Pour into prepared baking tin, and bake at 180 degrees C for 1 hour. Check with a skewer. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.


I used two 23cm  cake tins. The cook time was approx. 45 minutes at the recommended temperature.  The recipe calls for a 20 x 30 cm dish to make a single layer cake, but I have mislaid mine which is why I made a sandwich cake.

You could put orange or lemon zest into the icing.  You could probably mix orange juice and zest in with the crushed pineapple provided that you stick to the same amount - take a tablespoon of pineapple out if you want to add a tablespoon of orange juice and zest.  Apple puree might be interesting to experiment with.

I like to add a bit of wholewheat flour.

And the kids asked me not to put raisins in, the fussy little gits!

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

1 (200g) tub cream cheese, softened

50g butter, softened

350g icing sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix together and beat until smooth and creamy, then use it to ice the cake.

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