Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Great Bristol Bake Off!

What happens when you take a group of over-excited girls, a table heaving with cake, and a highly anticipated Great British Bake Off Final? A sugar fuelled evening of tea drinking, screaming, crying and hurling abuse at the TV, that's what. At least that's what happened this week when we threw our own Bake Off party to see off the final episode of the series with an icing-sugar-dusted bang.

Entries included cupcakes, shortbread, a very dubious attempt at macaroons, banoffee pie, homemade marshmallows and rocky road, and the joint winning entries: a lemon and raspberry cheesecake and my Hummingbird Bakery carrot cake!

If you want to make the (ahem, *joint*) winning entry then you can find below the Hummingbird Bakery carrot cake recipe that I used. It's actually the first carrot cake I've ever made so I haven't yet decided if it's the recipe I'll refer back to in future - it was deliciously moist and the spices just right, but it does make an enormous three tier cream-cheese-covered monster, so perhaps next time I'll opt for a more low key affair. On this occasion though, this carroty brute was a champion among cakes.

Hummingbird Bakery Carrot Cake

For the cake

300g soft light brown sugar
3 eggs
300ml sunflower oil
300g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract 
300g carrots, grated
Zest of half an orange (not in the original recipe, but my little addition!)
100g shelled walnuts, chopped, plus extra, to decorate

For the icing
600g icing sugar 
100g butter, at room temperature
250g cream cheese, cold

Preheat the oven to 170C. 
Prepare 3 x 20cm cake tins with loose bottoms by greasing then lining the bottoms with greaseproof paper.
Put the sugar, eggs and oil in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and beat until all the ingredients are well mixed (don’t worry if it looks slightly split). Slowly add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, orange zest and vanilla extract and continue to beat until well mixed.
Stir in the grated carrots and walnuts by hand. Pour into the prepared cake tins and smooth over. Bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes (mine actually took 35 minutes) until golden brown and the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cakes to cool slightly in the tins, before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, beat the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment again until well mixed. Add the cream cheese, then beat again until well mixed. Turn the speed to high and continue to beat until light and fluffy but stop when you reach this point; if you over beat it the mixture will turn runny.
When the cakes are cold, spread about one-quarter of the cream cheese icing over it with a palette knife. Place a second cake on top and spread another quarter of the icing over it. Top with the last cake and spread the remaining icing over the top and sides. Decorate with walnut pieces and an extra sprinkling of cinnamon. 

So it looks like I'll have to start trying out some more carrot cake recipes...purely in the name of research, of course. Any recommendations?

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