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.

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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.

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Roll up, Roll Up for the Greatest Allotment Show…

Last Sunday, 1st September was our allotment sites annual show. Held every year as a joint event with the NGS gardens for charity open day, however this year was to be a little bit different to previous years. All thanks to two of our plot holders featuring on no less than Gardeners World! It’s not the first time our plots have featured on television, Nigel Slater came and filmed for his Simple Suppers series, but that was sadly before our time. This time however the camera crews had came to film a special couple, George    & Serge who have a special allotment plot which won them an award of merit from the ‘Gardening against the odds’ award. Their plot is gorgeous, part English country garden, part Potager and part sculpture garden. It really is beautiful. So thanks to their feature on Gardner’s World (Friday 25th August) and an advertisement of the show by no less than Monty Don himself, the show was a hit, attracting some 700 visitors to see Serge & George, take in the exhibits, tour the site and enjoy homemade cake and teas.

Continue reading “Roll up, Roll Up for the Greatest Allotment Show…”

Bountiful. A review of the season (so far…)

Forgive me, I’ve hardly blogged about the plot this summer. Recent weather aside (it’s a wet and windy Saturday afternoon as I write this), it’s a been a glorious summer and to be honest with you, we’ve just been so busy enjoying it down 18a. After a unseasonable cool start to the season full of worry whether we would ever get any kind of crop going, we approach the end of the growing season with a bumper crop of unexpected allotment loveliness. After a rather crappy first 6 months of 2013 for myself personally, the allotment and the abundance of nature there have helped me overcome my blues and banish my little rain clouds. So what’s been going on down 18a? Well let’s see…
Continue reading “Bountiful. A review of the season (so far…)”

King of Carrot Flowers. My Mocks & Spencer Sweet Carrot Chutney.

Carrots are a tricky beast. Easy to grow yet difficult to successfully grow. Like so many other frustrated veggie growers our carrots are constantly plagued by carrot fly. Pursued incessantly throughout the summer months (most active May to September, so that’s basically ALL summer) by this destructive little fly. On paper the carrot fly sounds monstrous; smelling a thinned or freshly pulled carrot on the wind flying a distance to find your baby carrots, laying their eggs so that their grubs feast on the poor defenceless carrot. All the while the veggie grower is blissful in their ignorance, unaware of what horrors lurk beneath the soil. Not only do we have the carrot fly to do battle with but enter the ant and if you’re really unlucky, a mole. Our plot neighbour insist that ants constantly eat their carrot seedlings (jury are still out on that one). It’s not just the marauding pests but their quite picky about their environment. Lovers of fine sandy, free draining stone free soil. Snubbing any manure splitting and growing knobbly at the first sight of a stone. And we’ve all got conditions like that, right? Continue reading “King of Carrot Flowers. My Mocks & Spencer Sweet Carrot Chutney.”

You’ve Got A Friend in Me : Companion Planting

(Photos all from our allotment plot 18a)

It’s a jungle out there in the world of allotmenteering. The whole world and his slug is after our precious little vegetables. Down 18a it’s our policy to try to be as organic as we possibly can be (before it breaks your heart). We don’t use bug sprays or artificial fertilisers and most importantly no weed killers. It can be tough, harvests small compared to our weedkiller-bottle-trigger-happy plot neighbours. However in our corner one thing has our backs covered, and that’s companion planting. Continue reading “You’ve Got A Friend in Me : Companion Planting”

After the Rain Comes (a little) Sun.

After what seems like months of wet and cloudy weather the sun has finally put its hat on this weekend. A little sunshine is just what the allotment has been desperate for. Despite it being almost August it feels like the season is only really just getting going in earnest. With a list of jobs to do as long as our arms we took the opportunity to make hay whilst the sun shines. Continue reading “After the Rain Comes (a little) Sun.”