Saturday, May 3, 2008

Carrot cake

Hello everyone, I've had some interesting chats with people during the week about restaurants. Yesterday over afternoon tea with my friend Simon he told me about a restaurant that he had been to last year (which had been very well reviewed) and at which he had an absolutely appalling experience. I was very interested to hear this, as I had been to the same restaurant and similarly, was very unimpressed with the food and the service. Unlike me, Simon did something about it, firing off a letter to the manager of the restaurant the next day setting out his complaints. In return, he received a very apologetic letter from the manager with a voucher to spend on his next visit and encouragement to give them another go. He did, used the voucher, and found the experience the second time round much improved. Just goes to show that it pays to complain!

When I have a bad experience in a restaurant, I go the other way - I badmouth it to everyone I know and then never go back. Of course, if it's somewhere I like (like Catalonia at Kirribilli, where the food and wine are incredibly delicious, the service is outstanding and the fit out beautiful), I tell everyone and go back repeatedly. Which led to another conversation last night in which I suggested to another friend that we have dinner at a place in the city where I have been about ten times. He asked if I'm not sick of it, but the food is so good there that I don't think I'll ever tire of it! If you can find somewhere you love, it's great to be able to keep going back and enjoying it.

I made this cake just the other day for a birthday. It's one I have been making for years and years - I was given the recipe originally by my friend Clare, in 1989! It has stood the test of time. One of its best features is that the pineapple in it keeps it really moist, so you can make it the night before it is eaten.

Have a great week, love from Jane xx

Carrot cake

Grate young fresh carrots to give one full cup. (I throw the carrots into the food processor and process until very finely chopped).
Strain the juice from a 200g can of crushed pineapple.
In a bowl, mix one cup of plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon each of cinnamon and salt and ¾ cup of caster sugar.
Add two eggs and 5 tablespoons of a light tasting oil.
Mix very well.
Stir in the grated carrot, crushed pineapple and ¼ cup chopped walnuts.
Bake the cake in a moderate oven (180) for 35-40 minutes or until cooked right through (it is a very moist cake, so depending on your oven, might take quite a while to cook).
Cool before covering with topping.

To make the cream cheese topping, place in a bowl 3 tablespoons butter, 3 tablespoons cream cheese, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and 250g icing sugar and beat well. If it is too thick, add a small amount of milk to give a smooth consistency.

When I made the cake just recently I did think you could probably cut down the amount of icing sugar used as it is quite sweet and you end up with more icing than you can possibly get on the cake. So you might want to experiment with the quantity - just remember to write down the quantity you use so you know for next time!