Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The best carrot cake recipe

Hello, readers!

After a fair amount of searching and trials, I am pleased to say I have found the carrot cake recipe I consider to be THE BEST.  That might come across as a little controversial to carrot cake lovers as each tends to have his/her own favourite. However, what I love about this cake is of course the wonderful flavour, but also that it is dense and moist, and is ideal for decoration as it holds it shape well.

Carrot Cake
Recipe from 'Planet Cake: A beginners' guide to decorating incredible cakes'

170g self raising flour
170g plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200ml vegetable oil
225g soft brown sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
125ml golden syrup
500g grated carrots
60g chopped pecans or walnuts


1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celciis. Grease the tin and the line the base and sides with a collar of baking paper that extends 2 cm above the top of the tin. Sift together the flours, spices and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Whisk together the oil, sugar, egg and golden syrup. Gradually pour into the well, stirring until combined. Stir in the carrots and chopped nuts.

2. Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until a skewer poked into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

3. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Storage: Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 2 months.

That's all from me for now as motherly duty calls. Happy baking, everyone! xx

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Red Lentil & Sweet Potato Soup

Happy new year, dear readers! I hope that 2014 will be a wonderful year for all of you, filled with much love and happiness! Of course, may it also be filled with good food!

At this time of year, many of us (myself included) vow to live a healthier lifestyle in the year ahead. It is also at this time of year, that we all tend to feel the after-effects of indulging over Christmas and New Year. What better way to get back on track than with clean and simple food like this soup. Thanks to the sweet potato, this really is a meal in a bowl, so we tend to enjoy it without bread on the side. Nourishing, comforting, and fuss-free... a great way to start the year I think :)

Red Lentil & Sweet Potato Soup
An adapted recipe from Australian Good Taste, July 2000

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500g orange sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
110g (1/2c cup) dried split red lentils, rinsed
3.5 cups vegetable stock
1 zuchinni, coarsely grated
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, and once they start to darken and are aromatic, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes or until the onion softens slightly.
2. Add the sweet potato, lentils and stock to the saucepan and stir well to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, stirring frequently, for 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
3. Stir in the zucchini and cook, uncovered, for 3 minuted. Season to taste and serve.

Anna x

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Panettone French Toast with Cherry Compote and Brandied Mascarpone

One last post before I sign off for Christmas and New Year!

This is my own recipe for very festive and very decadent french toast. To me, this is Christmas on a plate because it combines so many of the ingredients and flavours associated with this time of year. Italian Christmas bread, cherries, cinnamon, orange, brandy... all my favourite Christmas flavours! It is rich, but if you can't have this at this time of year, when can you have it?! This recipe works a treat with stale panettone, so if you find yourself with panettone leftovers after Christmas, you'll know just how to transform them into something really special :)

For this dish, I believe the key is to getting the compote right. The compote needs acidity to cut through the sweetness of the other components, so make sure you taste it. How much sugar you need will depend on how sweet/tart the cherries are so taste as you go, and add sugar as required.

Panettone French Toast with Cherry Compote and Brandied Mascarpone
an original Diary of a Ladybird recipe
(serves 2)

4 pieces Panettone (I cut a 1.5cm round of my panettone by cutting it horizontally then cut into 4)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.5 cups pitted cherries
caster sugar, to taste (see method)
lemon juice

125g mascarpone
1 tablespoon icing sugar, plus extra to serve
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
2 teaspoons brandy
maple syrup (optional)

1. In a wide shallow dish, whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Add the panettone to the mixture and let sit for about 10 minutes to absorb the liquid. Turn once midway. Meanwhile, make the compote and mascarpone.

8 pieces pictured as recipe doubled in this instance
2. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cherries with 1 tablespoon water, a squeeze of lemon juice and a teaspoon of caster sugar, adding more if desired. Simmer covered and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes.
3. Combine the mascarpone, zest, icing sugar and brandy in a small bowl and set aside.
4. Heat a large fry pan over medium heat with a little olive oil and a nob of butter. Take the panettone pieces from the dish removing any excess liquid, then cook in the pan on both sides, cooking until golden.
5. To serve, place 2 pieces of panettone on each plate, topped with the cherry compote and a dollop of mascarpone, followed by a dusting of icing sugar and maple syrup if desired.

Buon appetito and merry Christmas! See you in 2014! :)

Anna xx
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