Carrot and Orange Loaf … The Mary Berry Way

I’m still addicted to Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, and wanted to try out another recipe from the book. I decided on the Carrot and Orange Loaf for two reasons: 1. I wanted to see what a crazy combination like carrot and orange would taste like, 2. I’ve never made a carrot cake with butter instead of oil.

The biggest problem I have with the recipe book is that not all the recipes have a photo of the finished product. I normally use the photo most to see what it’s meant to turn out like so had a bit of a freak out when I didn’t have one to use.  However, I turned to my trusty friend, Rising To the Berry, who is going through all the recipes in the book and, thankfully, she had already done this one.

Now, being the geek that I am, I’ve read all the baking tips at the front of the book and decided to try out her way of preparing a loaf tin.  It was essentially greasing the tin all up and cutting a piece of greaseproof paper that is the same size as the length of the of the longest side and leaves an overlap (see photo below).


After that was done I set about grating the carrots and boy, were there a lot of carrots to get through. I’m generally rubbish at grating things; normally I end up having about 10 cuts on my fingers from where I got excited but this time I did quite well, I only had three.  I consider that huge progress.

Once the carrots were done I grated the orange rind and cut away the pith (which is the white part of the skin – yes, I actually had to Google it!) before slicing it.

Finally I set about making the batter; the recipe says to bung it all into a bowl and mix it up. I tend to find that I over mix the batter quite when I do it this way so I started by mixing the butter, sugar, rind and carrots; before mixing in the eggs and finally the flower baking powder and spices.  I also added a tablespoon of milk, as the batter was quite thick.

The mixture went into the cake tin and into the oven for about 45minutes.  I took it out when it was just firm and put the slices of orange on the top and drizzled some honey on top of that. This went into the oven for a further 15minutes.

I have to say, when I took the loaf out of the oven I was insanely proud of it, and therefore of Mary Berry.  The loaf came out perfectly.  Furthermore, the new way of lining the loaf tin made it so much easier to take the cake out. You literally just lift it out and hey presto… perfect loaf!

I managed to hold my family off eating the loaf until after dinner and I tell you, it was definitely worth the wait! It was beautifully moist and the carrot and orange flavour actually worked really well.  Also, I find a lot of carrot cakes are quite oily so it was really nice to not have that. All in all, a definite great recipe; Mary Berry is on a good streak!

Carrot and Ginger Cake…One of Your 5-A-Day? I Think So.

This recipe was meant to be the Pièce de résistance as a dessert for yet another dinner party.  I made Apricot and Almond cookies as a pre-snack to go on the table but wanted to make a layer cake for dessert.

The Apricot and Almond cookies were made first and I decided to take a tea break before I attempted the main cake; my mum was cooking the numerous dishes and I decided to give her a break from battling for kitchen space.

Before actually starting the cake, the recipe calls for a lot of grated carrots and root ginger.  I actually hate grating but everyone was busy and I couldn’t beg them to do it for me so I sat there for a good 20 minutes grating with a tortured look upon my face.  I made it through my ordeal with only five small injuries (nothing compared to how many injuries I normally get!).  The carrots, ginger, vanilla essence, oil, butter and sugar got whisked together to make a not so attractive ‘mix’.

The dry ingredients, were sieved together and then mixed into the carrot mixture in two goes.  It was when I got to the next step that I realised I had to chop up and stir in lots of pecan nuts.  Once again I would suggest reading the recipe through once before actually starting; a mistake I don’t seem to learn from apparently.

I finally managed to get the batter into three prepared sandwich tins and into the oven for around 45-50 minutes.  They came out smelling amazing but had risen quite a lot.  I left them to cool a bit before taking them out of the tins.  I then attempted ‘trimming’ the top of the cakes to make them flat enough to layer on top of each other.  It is actually quite painful to do this, as it feels like a complete waste but I luckily have members of family that walk into the kitchen, pick up a ‘trimmed’ piece, a cup of tea and walk back out again; so at least it was all eaten.

I was worried that the cakes wouldn’t cool in time so I put them into the fridge and made the icing just before the guests arrived.  The icing was essentially the cream cheese frosting recipe with orange zest.  In the past, I’ve had issues with zest and piping and I had planned to make a wicker basket pattern along the side so I vetoed the orange zest.  I layered each cake on top of the other with icing in the middle and applied the ‘crumb coat’, which is essentially a thin layer of icing around cake to lock in any stray crumbs.

This is when I realised the biggest problem in my master plan; the heat.  For those who don’t live in the UK; we’ve been lucky enough to have a random heat wave, which was amazing and thoroughly enjoyed until I had to deal with icing. Although I followed the recipe to the letter and the icing wasn’t watery in any way; it wasn’t drying as it should and was a lot moister than it had been just after I made it.  So, I squeezed the cake  and the rest of the icing into the fridge to cool off properly.

When it came to the top coat of icing I decided to scrap my plan to do a wicker basket pattern as it would take too long and the icing wouldn’t last long enough to hold the pattern in the heat.  I ended up adding the orange zest and copying the decoration that was on the recipe book.  I used the palette knife to create vertical stripes along the sides and a nice spiral pattern on the top.  I also couldn’t find any orange food colouring so stuck to pecans along the top rather than making icing carrots.

This again went back into the fridge until serving to make sure that nothing melted away.   Once the cake came out, there were lots of ooh’s and aah’s and I had about 30seconds to get a few photo’s before it was cut up, served, and consumed; you wouldn’t think these people had just had a huge meal the way they were going at it!

I managed to get a slice to take a photo of and turned around to answer a question; when I turned back to take the photo some one had sniped a bit of it! Typical! In terms of taste, you can’t really taste the ginger but it is still a really nice cake. What I found strange was that you could see the carrots when the batter went into the oven, but when it came out and got sliced you couldn’t.  Intriguing. Anywhoo its definately a cake to try and hey, its one of your 5-a-day (or should be) so you have a reason to make it.