Sunday Bake: Carrot Loaf Cake

This is my favourite-ever carrot cake recipe, it’s full of delicious flavours and good things, and is not too sweet. Although I love a big round carrot cake with a delicious cream cheese topping, sometimes you want something less fiddly and quicker to make, and perhaps something without a load of extra calories. This recipe is so delicious it absolutely does not need the topping – so I bake it in a loaf tin and enjoy it in slices, fruit loaf style – you don’t even need a plate!

Carrot cake recipe

  • Servings: approx 12 slices
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Ingredients

  • 175g carrot (this is approximately 2 large carrots)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 70g soft dark brown sugar
  • 75ml rapeseed oil, or other oil (suitable for baking) of your choice
  • 100g self-raising wholemeal flour (or plain wholemeal flour with 1 tsp baking powder added)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g desiccated coconut (or 50g of ground almonds if you are baking for coconut-haters)
  • 75g raisins

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 190C (180C fan) or gas mark 5 and line a 1lb loaf tin (a rectangular loaf tin approx 19cm x 12 cm x 6.5cm) with baking parchment.
  2. Scrub (and peel if they are older carrots) then finely grate the carrots.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until they are very thick and creamy.
  4. Whisk in the oil, pouring it slowly in a thin stream.
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir until evenly combined.
  6. Put the mixture into the prepared tin and bake until golden brown on the top and firm to the touch. This takes about 35 minutes – check after 30, and if the cake still seems a little gooey to the touch but quite brown on top, cover with foil and bake for 5-10 minutes more.
  7. Take out of the tin immediately and leave on a wire rack to cool.

The cake will keep in a air-tight container for about 3 days.

Carrot loaf cake recipe

Pretty simple, I am sure you will agree. Do let me know if you give it a try, I’d love to hear how you get on with it.

 

Peach and raspberry tray-bake cake

Peach and raspberry tray bake fruit cake recipe by Very Berry Handmade

Here’s a quick and delicious fresh fruit cake for you to try. I think of it as rather a traditional recipe – I’ve retrieved it from the notebook of recipes my mum collected together, and I remember it being a family favourite when I was kid. There are no fancy ingredients – it’s the flour, butter, sugar, eggs, milk and fruit type recipe that I still think can’t be beaten.

It’s completely delicious as a sweet treat that you’d have on the tea table with a lovely cuppa, but you can also serve it warm with cream or crème fraîche. The base of the cake is rather like a rich sweet scone (the British version!) than a sponge, so it doesn’t keep terribly well. If you won’t get through it all on the day that you make it, I would pop it in the freezer for a time when you need a treat.

Peach and raspberry tray bake cake recipe

It’s a very practical cake recipe because it starts with store-cupboard ingredients and you can use up whatever soft fruit you have lying around, as long as you have around 250g in total. I had a couple of slightly wrinkly peaches and a handful of raspberries that needed eating up, so went with that fantastic fruit combination, but cherries, blueberries, loganberries, tayberries, gooseberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, nectarines and strawberries are definitely all options.

Peach and Raspberry Traybake Cake

  • Servings: 12 small slices, 9 if you are serving for a dessert
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Ingredients

  • 150g self raising flour  – I use 50/50 wholemeal and white. If you don’t have SR flour you can add 2 level teaspoons of baking powder to 140g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 60g butter, from the fridge, cut into small pieces
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 peaches peeled, stoned and chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 100g raspberries, prepared and washed

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 190C (180C fan), Gas 5.
  2. Line a 18cm square (7 inch square) loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment. Grease the tin a bit so that the baking parchment won’t move around when you put the mix in the tin later.
  3. Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the butter (in small pieces). Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips – or you can use a food processor or mixer of course.
  4. Stir in the sugar, then take out 2 tbsps of the flour/butter/sugar mixture and set aside to use later.
  5. Stir the beaten egg and milk into the remaining flour and sugar mixture. It should be the consistency of very thick sponge mix or very wet scone mix!
  6. Spread the mixture into the tin, making the centre slightly indented so that it doesn’t rise too much in the middle when baking.
  7. Sprinkle the fruit over the base mixture, followed by the reserved crumble mix.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the top is light golden and the cake is slightly risen. You can test the middle of the cake with a skewer – if it comes out clean of dough, then the cake is cooked.
  9. Cool in the tin for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
  10. Serve warm with softly whipped cream or crème fraîche, or cold with a cuppa..

enjoy logo

 

 

Recipe: Speculaas – Dutch spiced cookies

Speculaas recipe.jpg

Speculaas biscuits – delicious spiced cookies from The Netherlands – are a Christmas standard in my house. They have the spicy and aroma that just shouts warm, cosy, Christmas, and they fill the house with most gorgeous fragrance as they are baking. They are crunchy (and stay crunchy if stored in an air-tight box), very melt-in-the-mouth, and, as my kids will confirm, very moreish.

Best of all, they are so easy to make – really almost impossible to get wrong. The dough is super-forgiving too – you can make double the quantity listed here, and make lots more biscuits, or refrigerate or freeze the dough (after stage 3 of the recipe – rolled into a thick disc and wrapped in greaseproof paper and a freezer bag) for biscuit emergencies. They are very sturdy biscuits too – traditionally the dough is used to fill moulds like these, and make amazingly decorative cookies, so if you are searching for a cookie recipe to make cut-out cookies for gifts or for your Christmas tree, this one is ideal.

First up you will need to make the spice mix. This is my preferred mix – but if you search you will find loads of variations, or you can buy premixed Speculaas spices (which might be cheaper if you are not the kind of person who has all these spices already on their shelves).

Speculaas Spice Mix

  • Servings: makes 7 teaspoonfuls
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  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (if you are grating whole nutmeg, then that’s about 1/3 nutmeg)
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground fennel
  • 1/2 tsp ground mace

This will make loads more than you need for one batch of cookies – but it will keep well for a couple of months in a screw top jar. You can use it to make more cookies, or to spice up apple pies (delicious!), baked apples, granola, muffins (I have a recipe for Speculaas-spiced muffins which I will be sharing soon) fruit cakes and chocolate cakes…

speculaas-recipe-close-up

Here’s how you make the biscuits – I get about 12 cookies using this quantity of dough and a 2.5 inch (that’s about 6cm) round cutter.

Speculaas biscuits / cookies

Ingredients

  • 100g plain white flour
  • 1 tsp speculaas pice mix
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g light muscovado sugar (or dark if you prefer a darker coloured biscuit)
  • 1 tbsp whole milk
  • 75g softened butter

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C, Gas 4, or 350F. Line a flat baking tray with baking parchment.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl – I fit it is easiest to do this with my hands, but you can use a mixer/food processor if you like, just take care not to overwork the dough.
  3. Bring the mixture together with your hands until you have a smooth dough. Flatten to a disc about the 6 inches (15cm) across, and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to about 1/4in (6mm) thickness.
  5. Cut biscuits with cookie cutters and transfer to the baking tray.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes until they are gently golden-brown. It’s always a good idea to check the biscuits after about 10 minutes, if your oven is anything like mine, there will be some uneveness in baking and you can turn the tray round to get a more even bake.
  7. After you have taken them out of the oven, leave to cool on the tray for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a wire wrack to finish cooling.

A quick and lovely way to decorate the cookies is to sprinkle them with flaked almonds before baking. But they are also great for decorative icing if you have talent in that direction, because the biscuits bake really flat. I am useless with the piping bag, so inspired by something I saw over at Martha Stewart, I decided to stencil mine with icing sugar. It was a bit fiddly, but much easier (for me) than proper icing.

My technique was to paint each cooled cookie with a very thin icing mix (I mixed 3 tablespoons of icing sugar with one tablespoon of water – it was plenty for 12 cookies), and then to use a snowflake stencil (I used a 2 inch craft punch to cut the stencil out of card) and a very fine sieve to sprinkle icing sugar over the stencil. It’s important to do one cookie at a time because otherwise the icing starts to dry and the icing sugar doesn’t stick so well. I added a little extra sprinkle once I was finished with the stencil (partly to cover up my smudges!). Definitely a fun thing to do with your kids if you don’t mind a floor full of icing sugar…

More Christmas recipes are imminent… I have been without a cooker for over a week now (difficult times in the Very Berry household with malfunctioning ovens and dodgy electrics), so am super-excited to be baking again. 🙂