Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Orange and Pistachio Carrot Cake

Telling someone you'd like your coffee wet may lead to them thinking your deluded.  Or at least more deluded than they'd previously thought you were. But every day is a school day and now, one of my colleagues is fully versed up on the complexities of how to order coffee.  If he thought he was a hardcore caffeine addict, he has just met his match!

Most days, he'll appear in the office brandishing a Starbucks cup.  Not unusual to most people, but when you work in the back end of beyond (or at least it feels like it), seeing a Starbucks cup is like seeing an oasis in a desert.  Everyone wants to know where it came from and why they didn't get one too.  Being such a generous chap, he has offered in the past to collect me a coffee so long as I remember to give him my order the previous evening.  I always forget.

Top of the cake with my carrot 'blobs'
But today, when I showed him a picture of the carrot cake that I've made this week (he got to choose what I made), he kindly offered again and I felt it rude to say "I'll email my order later".  So I requested my usual which is a grande skinny almond latte - extra hot and wet.  Grande and skinny because I'm being good (and I now actually hate anything other than skimmed milk).  Almond because skimmed milk has no taste.  Extra hot because Starbucks is about six miles from the office.  And wet.  Because you get more in your cup.

Starbucks have this tendency to fill the cup with at least a third of foam.  Fine if you're ordering a cappuccino but I don't buy a latte for the foam.  I buy it because I want a decent milky coffee.  So you can order your latte wet which means it comes without any foam.  Or, if you want it really foamy, you order it dry.  Which means you get about two teaspoons of milk and a cup full of hot air.

In all honesty, I could've just asked for a latte with two sugars.  I feel a bit rotten now for being so hard to please when it comes to coffee.  At least I didn't' insist he drove to Costa (about six miles in the other direction).  And I hope the cake is a fair exchange for my complicated coffee order!

I was originally going to make a Hummingbird Bakery Carrot and Ginger cake (from Cake Days) but wasn't sure I'd get time to faff around with icing it nicely so I settled on making a traybake because you can just slap the icing on over the top.  Plus, it's easier to transport.  So I chose a recipe from the Great British Bake Off Cookbook to get the basic quantities, adapted it with some tweaks of my own and inspiration from the Hummingbird recipe and then used the Hummingbird's frosting on the top, just because I could.

Will update tomorrow with the feedback and a picture of it when it's been cut, but in the meantime, here's how I did it.

Recipe - fills a 20x25cm traybake tray (adapted from The Great British Bake Off 'How to Cook' and Hummingbird Bakery 'Cake Days')
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 tsp ginger
  • 0.5 tsp all spice
  • pinch of salt
  • 100g soft dark brown sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • zest of half an orange
  • 2 tsp orange blossom water or juice of half an orange
  • 75g unsalted pistachios, chopped
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 150ml sunflower oil
  • 350g carrots, grated

For the topping
  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 25g butter
  • 150g full fat cream cheese
  • 2 tsp orange blossom water or juice of half an orange
  • zest of half an orange
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas 4.  Grease and baseline the baking tray.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.  Add the sugar, zest, spices, salt and pistachioes eggs and carrots and mix well.
  3. Pour into the tin and level the top.  Bake for 45 minutes or until it passes the skewer test.
  4. Cool in the tin.  If serving on a plate, you can remove for icing, but I iced mine in the tin to make transporting it easier.
  5. While the cake is cooling, mix the butter and icing sugar using an electric mixer on slow speed until it forms fine crumbs.  Add the orange blossom water or juice and the cream cheese and mix until light and fluffy.
  6. If you want to decorate with piped carrots, remove two tablespoons of the frosting into two separate bowls (1 tbsp in each) and colour (gel colours work best as the icing is very soft).  Refrigerate before using to pipe.
  7. Spread the rest of the frosting over the cold cake with a palette knife and make a swirly pattern. 
  8. Decorate with pistachios and carrots (if desired).  Cut into 15 squares for serving.

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