There’s something very comforting about spending a couple of hours on a weekend baking your own cake. While visiting a cafe for an indulgent slice and proper coffee is a favourite treat, and bakeries and even shops are doing a sterling effort with their delicious creations, the process of making something yourself really does result in a product that money can’t buy – and it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Walk into a bookshop, browse through magazines, or do an online search and you’ll be spoilt for choice with recipes. From multi-layered extravagances to gluten-, nut- and dairy-free alternatives, when it comes to cakes there is something to suit every taste and budget. However, for the amateur baker, the last thing you want on a weekend is to bake something that’s time-consuming, complicated, expensive, or – worst of all – inedible.
So to start you off, here’s a tried and tested carrot cake from Be-Ro. The flour-making business is over a hundred years old and released their first baking book in the 1920’s. Still published today, it’s a slim volume with a handful of recipes for classic bakes including scones, Victorian sponge cake and shortcrust pastry (to be used for anything from quiches to jam tarts).
Once you’ve got the basics mastered, you can start experimenting – maybe add dried fruits and nuts, or turn a cake into individual buns. Add a decadent frosting, or why not decorate it with mini marzipan carrots for a special occasion? Or simply slice and serve with a big mug of tea, enjoying the aroma, taste and satisfaction that can only come from a homemade bake.
Carrot Cake For Beginnners
This is quite a flexible recipe so feel free to experiment.
225g self-raising flour
Half a teaspoon of ground mixed spice (or cinnamon and/or ginger)
150g soft dark brown sugar (gives a better flavour but caster sugar works)
150g carrots (peel and cut the top off before weighing, then grate)
2 medium eggs, whisked together
150ml corn or sunflower oil (you can also try olive oil or melted butter)
2 tablespoons milk (doesn’t really matter what kind)
Heat your oven to 180’c / gas mark 4 and prepare a round or loaf tin by greasing (use oil or melted butter) and lining it inside with baking paper. Mix the flour, spices, sugar and grated carrot together in a large bowl (you don’t need to sieve anything). In a jug, whisk the eggs and add the milk and oil.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry and fold until combined (the Be-Ro instructions say to ‘beat’ the mixture, but folding will keep more air in for a better rise). Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes (to test, stick a cocktail stick through the thickest part – if it comes out clean, it’s done. If it looks sticky, put the cake back in for 5-10 minutes then repeat the test).
Once baked, wait 10-15 minutes for the cake to cool a little, then turn it out onto a wire rack. When it’s completely cool you can add icing – Be-Ro suggest an orange buttercream frosting (take a look at their website here for the recipe) or just mix icing sugar with water and drizzle it over the top. The sponge will also freeze well.