In her new book, chef Rosemary Shrager guides you through tried and tested recipes that she vows will turn you into a better cook
You can’t beat a good carrot cake and this one is better than good, it’s great
I always enjoy carrot cake but this one is made extra special by the addition of dates, which give it a slightly Middle Eastern flavour.
It is worth adding the carrot confit if you have time, as it looks pretty and tastes great.
For the cake
200g (7oz) plain flour2 slightly heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda100g (3½oz) walnuts, roughly chopped, plus some extra walnut halves to decorate250g (9oz) runny honey100g (3½oz) carrots, peeled and finely grated180g (6¼oz) pitted dates, chopped2tsp ground cinnamon1tsp grated nutmeg100g (3½oz) butter, plus extra for greasing
For the buttercream icing
250g (9oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature500g (1lb 2oz) icing sugar, siftedFinely grated zest of 1 orange, well washed100ml (3½fl oz) double cream
For the carrot confit (optional)
150g (5½oz) golden caster sugar1 large carrot, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Grease a 22cm loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.
Make sure you line your cake tin properly so you can remove the cake without damaging the sides.
The best way is to grease the tin lightly, then line with baking paper – greasing first helps to keep the paper in place.
Put the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda and the roughly chopped walnuts in a large bowl and set it aside. Then put the honey, carrots, dates, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter in a pan and add 200ml of water.
Place the pan over a gentle heat and let everything melt together, then simmer for 5-7 minutes. Tip the mixture into a clean bowl and leave to cool until lukewarm, then stir in the flour, bicarb and walnuts.
Pour the mixture into the lined tin, then bake for 45 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the buttercream, put the butter in a bowl with the icing sugar and orange zest. Using an electric hand mixer, beat until soft. Whisk the cream to soft peaks and fold it into the butter and sugar mixture.
To make the carrot confit, if using, put the sugar in a pan with 200ml of water and slowly bring to the boil over a gentle heat. Add the carrot and cook for 15-20 minutes.
Strain off the liquid and leave the strips of carrot on a piece of greaseproof paper to cool.
To assemble the cake, cut it in half horizontally. Spread some of the buttercream on the bottom layer, cover with the other half of the cake and spread the rest of the icing on top.
Then decorate with the walnut halves and the carrot confit, if using.
Extracted from Rosemary Shrager’s Cookery Course by Rosemary Shrager, published by BBC Books, £20. Offer price £16 until 06/10/2018, order at mailshop. co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640, p&p is free on orders over £15. Photography © Andrew Hayes-Watkins.
ROSEMARY’S GOLDEN RULES
Rosemary’s golden rules include buying everything fresh and being organised
I’m all for breaking rules but there are some kitchen habits I stick to.
Buy everything as fresh as possible. Supermarkets have their place, but look at local farms and markets too.
Be organised when preparing food. Keep your ingredients on your left and prepped food on your right.
When preparing ingredients, finish one task before starting the next, ie. skin all your tomatoes, then chop – don’t peel one, chop it, then go back to peeling. It’s just not efficient.
Clear up as you go. Mess is stressful.