Carrot & Cashew Nut Cake

There’s something about a summer’s day that makes me really fancy a bit of cooling sweet  carrot cake. I love the way it sounds healthy, though despite its long association with health food shops it’s far from healthy! Sure you can hide some veggies and some nuts in there but it’s still a naughty little cake. And I love a naughty little cake!

Finding myself on a sugar craving snack hunt I found we had a lot of carrots to get through, a carton of cream cheese in need of using up and a big bag of cashews at the back of the store cupboard. To be honest I was really after some chocolate for a quick sugar fix but found these random ingredients whispering… carrot and cashew nut cake. By adapting the basic carrot cake recipe I substituted cashews instead of walnuts and added sugar cashews for topping. I must say I prefer using cashews instead of walnuts as sometimes walnuts can be bitter or catch my throat. Cashews add a lovely creamy edge and caramelised crunch to the topping.



For the cake

150ml sunflower oil
200g light soft brown sugar
3 eggs
175g plain flower
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
75g chopped cashew nuts
150 – 200g grated carrots (I used two medium-sized carrots)

For the cream cheese frosting

250g of cream cheese (around one pack)
100g of icing sugar
zest of one lemon

For the Sugared Cashews for topping 

100g cashews
tea cup of water or around 100 ml water
25g granulated sugar
dessert spoon of Demerara sugar

Heat the oven to 180 C/160 C fan/350 F/gas 4 and line the base of your chosen tin. I used a 20cm loose bottom tin.

Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a bowl.

Using a food processor or by hand mix the sugar and oil together until smooth incorporating the beaten eggs. Stir in the carrots and nuts to the mixture then fold in the dry ingredients.

pour into your cake tin smoothing gently with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, test with a skewer, if it comes out with only a few crumbs your cake is ready.

leave to cool completely in the tin.

Whilst cooling make the lemon cream cheese topping and your sugared cashews.

For the cream cheese frosting simple mix together the cream cheese and icing sugar gently until all the icing sugar has dissolved, stir through the lemon zest and set aside back in fridge until needed.

For the sugared cashews start by lightly toasting the cashews in a dry frying pan. Add the granulated sugar to the water heating in a small pan until simmering and the sugar has been dissolved. Pour into the warm nuts in the fry pan (be careful the pan is not too hot!) let. Leave simmering the sugar-water and nuts until becomes syrupy and add the demerara sugar. Continue to cook until the liquid has gone and the nuts are sticky. Set aside to cool.

Turn out your cooled cake, frost with the cream cheese mix and decorate with your sugared cashews. Eat immediately or keep in the fridge until consumed.


The Gingerbread Allotment Shed



Nothing says Christmas like gingerbread. I love it, I could live off the stuff year round. Something about the warming spice, dark molasses rich sugar and the lightly chewy texture from the golden syrup that just warms the cockles and gets me in the festive spirit. This recipe has a lovely aromatic to it with the addition of the Orange zest and freshly grated nutmeg. Ideal for edible or decorative use, but why would you want to waste a good biscuit on the tree?
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Bringing back the Fairy Cake: Blackcurrant and Lemon Fairy Cakes

This morning I found myself in a baking mood. Only having 2 eggs in the fridge, that old baking quandary, a batch of fairy cakes was in order. Note I call them fairy cakes and NOT cupcakes. Wikipedia refers to the Fairy Cake as the English version of Cupcakes, how very dare you sir! Fairy Cakes are as British as a cup of tea on a summers day or a rainy bank holiday. Continue reading “Bringing back the Fairy Cake: Blackcurrant and Lemon Fairy Cakes”

Nostalgic Bakes: Coconut Cake

There’s nothing quite like the smell of a cake baking to take you back to your childhood. In particular there is something about the aroma of desiccated coconut that particularly stirs my memories thinking back I can remember a lot of coconut cakes being made in our house. It was one of the few cakes my mum could (be bothered) to make and in particular it was a favourite of the boys at our house. With both my dad and brother being partial to a nice slice of coconut loaf, even so far as my brother would make a loaf now and again. My little brother was never academic, in fact he was a little terror at school, but one day he came home with the most amazing coconut loaf that he had made at home economics. He was dead proud of that cake, and for a small while after we could even coax him into recreating the magic at home.
Continue reading “Nostalgic Bakes: Coconut Cake”

An Apple a Day. Apple Day 2012

So today Sunday 21st of October 2012 was Apple Day. The day itself was a grey, damp and rheumy one but that didn’t matter, today was the apples big day. To celebrate Apple Day our allotment kids club, The Young Gardeners Club had a special little meet up in the community hut. Apple Day was started in Covent Garden on 21st Oct. 1990 to demonstrate the significance of the apple to British culture, landscape and wildlife. It is now celebrated countrywide and is part of the festive calendar. The Young Gardeners Club celebrated by making apple juice using a borrowed traditional apple press and bevy of surplus apples kindly donated by plot holders. So you can imagine there was a wide array of varieties, flavour, textures, shapes and sizes of apples on offer. With many of the fruit trees potentially being 75 years old or more there where plenty of heritage and unusual apple varieties to show. A great opportunity to teach the kids about the vast varieties and diversity of British apples. And more importantly that the uniform flavourless apples found in the supermarkets are not necessarily the norm. They had a good turn out, I didn’t realise there was so many children at our plots. The apple juice flowed and someone even made an apple cake! A successful first Apple day for the Young Gardeners Club. Continue reading “An Apple a Day. Apple Day 2012”

Raspberry & Rose Water Cupcakes

Raspberry and rose-water is a flavour combination I’ve been a little obsessed with lately. It’s not that far-fetched to see how they work well together seeing as they belong to the same botanical family, Rosaceae with the raspberry coming from the Rubus genus. That’s right, the raspberry is related to the rose. Theres something about the floral notes of the rose-water that brings out the raspberries sweetness. Though the raspberries at the allotment are only just beginning to come into flower and the rose petals are still a thorny while away, this recipe has got me daydreaming for mid-summer and afternoon tea in some fantasy conservatory, some place in the countryside. Forget the old ladies talc scent of rose, get the balance right and enjoy the gentle floral sweetness.
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The Truffle Shuffles.

This valentines in an attempt to give a DIY two-fingers up to Hallmark I thought I’d turn my hand to making some homemade truffles. What better way to express my affection for my Mister than something lovingly handmade, eh? I’d done my homework, swatted up on recipes, how hard could it be? Well short answer very simple, long answer nooooooo. Continue reading “The Truffle Shuffles.”