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!

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A Coffee Break in a Cake

I’m not the biggest fan of coffee, it’s too bitter a drink for my taste.  But everyone needs a coffee break, and there’s nothing like a piece of chocolate to offset the bitter taste of the coffee (any excuse for chocolate!) So I was intrigued as to how the Coffee and Chocolate Loaf would go down, so I baked it for the dessert for a dinner party we were having.

I started by whisking the butter and sugar together and adding the eggs one at a time.  Simple so far. Then I sifted the dry ingredients together and mixed the milk with the coffee… coffee? I forgot to brew the coffee! Aarrgghhh! In typical Diary of a Bake-a-holic style, I made what I thought would be strong coffee, and put it in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool.

Once I deemed it cool enough to put into the mix, I started mixing everything together: adding a little of the dry ingredients, then a little of the coffee milk at a time.

The batter was finally ready to be poured into the pre-greased and pre-dusted tin and put into the oven for an hour.  I breathed a sigh of relief and sat down with some tea.

 

The cake came out of the oven looking like a big slab of dark chocolate… yum.  Although it did look tasty as hell, I was worried the dark colour meant it would also be bitter.  Ah well, there was nothing I could do now.

The dessert was sliced and passed round with the tea after dinner.  I felt a bit odd eating a coffee cake with tea – it just seems so wrong – so I had mine with milk.  Everyone enjoyed the cake but I think were worried about their figures – I wonder what it is about a chocolate cake that makes it seem fattier than a normal one?!

I thought the loaf was actually really, really nice, definitely not bitter. It went beautifully with my glass of milk and had a really lovely, rich taste – not too much chocolate, or too much coffee – but a nice mixture of both.  Definitely a new favourite!

A Nutty Loaf

After a loaf spree recently I wasn’t too keen on making another loaf for a while. My mum had other plans for me however – she’s had her eye on three different loaves for a while and managed to convince me to make one for a dinner party we were having.  So, me being the annoying person that I am, put it up to Facebook to decide; and, just as annoying, there was a tie!  So I chose the Pistacchio Loaf to get it out the way

I wasn’t too keen on making this but it had to be done at some point right?  For once I remembered to chop up the pistachios before starting on anything else, which took forever.  Chopping nuts is officially the most boring, dragged out process ever – the worst bit of baking in my opinion! Anyhow, once chopped I whisked all the ‘wet’ ingredients  and sifted the ‘dry’ ingredients  in anotehr bowl.  This was all then whisked together and the chopped pistachios stirred in.

 

After an hour in the oven, I took the cake out to cool.  It smelt great, as freshly baked cake generally does, but for some reason I just wasn’t sold. I took the cake out of the tin and left it to cool while our guests arrived and we ate dinner.

Before dishing out the cake to everyone I made the glaze to go on top.  I mixed icing sugar ad water together until quite thick and poured it over the cooled loaf.  I then ground up some pistachios using a mortar and pestle – or an anger management device, as I prefer to call it – and sprinkled it on to the glaze.

The cake went down really well at the dinner party; they really liked the nutty taste.  My gut served me right this time – it wasn’t my favourite cake at all; I did like it with the glaze but it wasn’t sweet enough for me.  I do tend to like most cakes that aren’t sweet, but these normally compensate with spices – the pistacchio loaf just wasn’t enough of either.  Ah well.  On to the next one!

A Christmas Marble Loaf

So, it was Christmas (as if you didn’t already know) and there were a few recipes that I had saved up specially. Firstly, I wanted to remake the Cinnamon and Raisin Loaf, as I was naughty and didn’t blog on it the last time I made it.

I started by whisking together the butter and sugar; and adding the eggs one at a time.  My £3 electric whisk was starting to make some really strange noises and I said a tiny little prayer to get it through the day, as I had so much to bake!

I carried on whisking the mixture and added the flour, baking powder, salt and soured cream to the mixture.  The recipe then said to take out some of the mixture and stir in the cinnamon.  This made a really lovely smelling brown batter. The raisins were then stirred into the remaining batter.

I then put the original batter in the greased and dusted tin and spooned in the cinnamon batter on top.  Now the first time I tried this recipe I was too scared to mix it in too much in case it all turned one colour.  This time I tried to stir it in more but was still a bit worried about over mixing.

The loaf went into the oven for around an hour; about halfway through the smell started to waft from the kitchen.  Boy do I love the smell cinnamon makes in a cake! I was so tempted to take it out there and then but I prevailed and didn’t open the oven door till the timer went.

The cake came out and was essentially demolished.  I absolutely love this cake; it’s the perfect mixture of sweetness and cinnamon. It goes great with tea or coffee and was the perfect pre-Christmas treat.  I even could deal with the raisins, although I’d love to try it with dark chocolate chips next time.

A Mission To Reach Perfection….With A Banana Loaf!

With the success of making the lemon loaf, I decided to try another recipe to see if I can use all the batter this time.  If you haven’t been able to tell yet, I’m a bit of a perfectionist.  So here goes my second attempt, my excuse for baking this week was Father’s day.

For some reason, I get really excited when I have to put different spices into cakes because I know however they turn out, they definitely won’t be labelled as bland.  This cake had a mixture of cinnamon and ginger in it.  The job of mashing up the bananas was allocated to my father (as it was father’s day I wanted to ‘include’ him in the preparation!) and was apparently quite fun to do.

Last time I made a loaf, I was worried the batter would overflow so didn’t put all of it in and made a few cupcakes.  This time, I wanted to see if I could use all of the batter.  Ignoring my gut feeling not to, I put all the batter into the pre greased and dusted tin, put it in the oven and forbid myself to open the door until it was done.

Now you’re probably waiting for me to tell you of my complete failure; but it didn’t turn out that bad.  It was all nicely cooked; it just decided to not look very much like a loaf.  Instead of rising, as the cake hadn’t cooked enough before the batter rose to the top; it collapsed and spread along the sides of the tin. It ended up looking more like a mushroom if I’m honest.

This turned the simple act of getting a cake out of the tin into a very tricky experience; thankfully I somehow managed it and left the cake to cool.  I grabbed my father and rushed him off to his Father’s Day present, dinner and the ballet.

Regardless of its interesting shape; the cake  turned out really well,  it was very moist and the mix of banana and spices complimented eachother really well; each not being too overpowering.  Definately one to try EVEN if you don’t like bananas!

A Loaf of Lemoniness…

Another first for me but a different type of first: still cake, different tin.  A lemon loaf. I’m guessing it’s called a loaf because of the tin but you never know, there may be an extremely scientific or arbitrary reason.  Anyone who can enlighten me, please do.

Any-who, I digress.  I have a love/hate relationship with lemon cakes: love the taste; hate the effect it has on my poor fingers.  This recipe only called for 2 lemons to be grated (thankfully) so it didn’t take too long to get started on baking.

 

The recipe seemed to be the reverse of you’re normal cake making process, as the butter went last.  I actually had to switch the bowl I was using because I immediately put the butter in first.  Oops.  Other than this there weren’t any huge dilemmas.  I used the same technique of greasing and dusting the tin to stop it sticking.

Ok. I lie.  There was one other mini mishap.  I had a bit of a panic when it came to putting the batter into the cake tin; nothing too dramatic, there just seemed to be a lot of batter in relation to my cake tin.  I was a bit worried that the cake would seriously overflow into a gooey mess while baking so held back on using the rest.  Instead I improvised and made a few lemon cupcakes.

After going in the oven, the cake took around an hour to cook (this was less time than the recipe suggests but I put that down to not using all the batter).  The loaf came out really nice and golden; to be fair I could have used all the batter without making a mess but this is a learning curve.

 

The syrup was easy enough to figure out: sugar, water, lemon zest and juice.  You’d think that I couldn’t manage to mess that one up right? Wrong.  I got a bit eager and started preparing the syrup as soon as the cake started to bake and then took it off the heat when it was ready and the cake had a long way to go still.  With the cake timer beeping I came back to see my syrup had gone a bit sticky and, well, solid.  It was saved quite easily by putting it back on the hob for a minute or two but I ended up with less syrup than I should have had.  I would suggest starting on the syrup when the cake is out of the oven.

Another tip for pouring the syrup, make little holes in the loaf before you pour the syrup over.  Doing this makes some of the syrup go through to the cake and makes it that much nicer.  The loaf came out really nice and moist and was greatly enjoyed by the lucky person who got it as a present.