Saturday, 4 February 2017

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.... carrot cake

Easy peasy lemon squeezy carrot cake.. because it really is so easy and has a bit of a twist on the cream cheese frosting. I actually turned mine into a tray bake to take to work for my colleagues as an end of week treat. You can alternatively divide the mixture between 2 9 inch round tins or even divide into cupcake cases and you'll get 24 cupcakes.

To get a decent 18 - 20 square pieces as a tray bake you will need
For the cake :
340g/12oz self raising flour
170g/6oz soft light brown sugar
170g/6oz soft dark brown sugar
340g/12oz softened margarine*
7 medium eggs - at room temperature*
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp milk
3 large carrots grated 
50g/2oz roughly chopped walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 
125g/4oz dried mixed fruit 
2 tablespoon golden syrup 
juice and zest of a large orange

For the cream cheese topping/filling:

250g/8oz marscapone cheese
450g/16oz full fat cream cheese
170g/6oz icing sugar 
zest and juice of 1 lime 
100g/4oz chopped walnuts

  • Preheat your oven to 180c/350f/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a deep rectangular baking dish/2 deep 9 inch round tins/ 2 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake cases.
  • Cream the margarine with both sugars with an electric whisk or a freestanding mixer until pale in colour and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and mix until smooth.
  • Add in the flour, olive oil, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, golden syrup, orange juice and zest, and whisk together till smooth
  • Fold in the carrots, dried fruit and walnuts. Pour the mixture into the tray or divide equally between the 2 tins or cupcake cases.
  • Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes or until lightly golden in colour and the cake starts to just come away from the edges of the tins/tray. Alternatively use a skewer/ cocktail stick to check that the cake has cooked. The skewer should come out clean if the cake is cooked through. If it comes out a little sticky, give the cake a little longer.
  • Leave the cake to cool slightly before removing from the tray/tins ; Then leave to cool completely.
  • Make up the frosting once the cake has cooled by mixing together all the ingredients till smooth and there are no lumps and spread generously over the tray baked cake or for the cakes spread some of the filling over one half of the cakes, place the other half on top and spread the top with some more of the frosting. For the cupcakes, just spoon the frosting over the tops. Don't worry if the frosting isn't perfect and neatly done - slightly messy an rustic frosting is perfect for this cake.
  • Finish off the cake with a sprinkling of chopped walnuts and if you can resist leave in the fridge for about 20 minutes for the frosting to firm up a little but if you're anything like me then dig straight in 

* Having your margarine soft and eggs at room temp really does help in getting a better rise out of your cake rather than using them straight from the fridge. I quite often use the defrost function on my microwave for my margarine- at 30 second bursts till its softened  

**The tray i used was actually a deep roasting tray which measured 15'' by 12'',  round tins i have are about 3'' deep and for the cupcake cases i use standard size cupcake cases not mini cupcake cases 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Cheats Paella

This version of Paella is super quick and easy but still full of flavour and perfect for when like me the other day, was craving this particular dish but was in a bit of a rush to get something decent on the table to have for our evening family meal.

If your not a fan of seafood, swap the prawns and scallops for cooked chicken breast as an alternative with diced peppers added in for a slight crunch.

To serve 4 people easily you will need:

3x 250g packet Uncle Bens Mexican rice
1x 200g pack of scallops
1 x 400g pack of cooked king prawns
1 x 198g tin of sweetcorn
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
fresh chopped coriander (optional)
lemon wedges (optional)

  • Start by adding a little oil into a heavy based pan, and on a medium heat, add in the scallops and prawns together. Cook the scallops for not longer than 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they don't catch or over cook on one side.
  • Add in all the rice to the pan along with the sweetcorn, and continuing on a medium heat, heat the rice through. One the rice is heated all the way through, take off the heat and sprinkle the smoked paprika over the rice.
  • Just before serving, scatter over the fresh coriander and serve the lemon wedges on the side as an extra for squeezing over the rice as you wish.
  • As an extra, i served a mixed green leaf salad on the side with some cheesy chilli nachos