We spent the weekend before last in London with friends.
We knew that dinner plans had been made, we knew we would have a chance to chat and walk and laugh and eat and see an exhibition.
What we didn't know was that the sun would shine for almost the entire time, that we would sit outside drinking coffee, that we would eat a Lebanese wrap on a park bench, an Ottolenghi cake on a street in Notting Hill. We didn't know that that we would eat some of the finest fried eggs we have ever tasted, that that doughnut would be talked about for the rest of the day. It was a grand way to spend a weekend.
And when we got back it was Chris's birthday. We drank coffee, ate lunch at Broughton Deli (ham, gruyere and onion marmalade crepe for me, ramen for him), walked into town. That evening we toasted to 32 with Chris's parents and with the promise that on Saturday we would do the same again with his parents, sister, brother-in-law and now almost two year old niece.
On Saturday I woke up, turned the oven on and started grating carrots.
I meant to use the food processor but sometimes tired brains and food processors do not go well together so I pulled out my fine microplane and I grated.
It took a little longer than I bargained for.
But, and this is crucial, I think I'll stick with it for future carrot cakes. Without the thick strands of carrot the texture was light and the sponge brightly orange. The cake cooled as I stirred the icing, tasting as I went and ending up with a pleasantly cream cheesy icing, slightly sour, not too sweet.
From Breakfast, Lunch and Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery by Rose Carraini
I used two 20cm (8 inch) tins instead of the one 23cm tin specified and found that the baking time and icing quantity were just right.
unsalted butter, for greasing
225g caster sugar
300ml sunflower oil
9 medium carrots, finely grated
300g plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
150g finely chopped walnuts
For the icing
125g unsalted butter, softened
250g cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
50-75g icing sugar, depending on how sweet you like your icing
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
Butter a 23cm (9 inch) cake tin and line its base with parchment paper.
Beat the eggs and caster sugar until they are light and fluffy but not too white and meringue-like.
Pour in the oil and beat for a few more minutes.
Fold in the carrots and then the flour with the cinnamon, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Finally fold in the walnuts.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool the cake in the tin before taking it out.
To make the icing, beat the butter with the cream cheese for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth.
Add the vanilla extract and icing sugar.
When the cake is cold, ice the top with the icing.