7th September 2012
I’m back!! I can’t believe that I have actually taken a month off from baking. The first two weeks of my month off we were away in Cornwall and had limited cooking facilities and the last two weeks were the last weeks of the school holidays, so it was rushing around getting things ready for school and enjoying time with my children (OK they’re not so little now, but it’s nice spending time with them).
Anyway they were back to school on Tuesday and I had hoped to bake before Friday but with work and the fact that I’m the Membership Secretary at the local Rugby Club, the beginning of September is always a bit hectic with the new rugby season starting, so come Friday everything had been done (except the housework – but that can wait) and I thought come on time to get yourself back in the kitchen baking.
It took a long time flicking through the pages to decide on what to bake, but as it was a glorious sunny day outside I decided on the Carrot & Orange Loaf.
The oven as usual was put on to preheat and a loaf tin taken out of the cupboard. Mary suggests using a 2lb loaf tin, but I picked my slightly bigger one, I think it’s about 2.5lbs, it’s a little bit wider than my 2lb loaf tin, which I personally think is too long and narrow!
First thing to do was to grate the orange rind. This was grated and put into a bowl. Next Mary says to cut the pith away from the orange and slice it thinly. Looking through the recipe I could see that the orange wouldn’t actually be needed for over an hour, so as it was a very warm day, I decided not to slice the orange up just yet, as I could see it drying out before it was required.
This was another all in one recipe from Mary, so the next thing for me to do was to grate the carrots. I never know whether to grate them finely or coarsely. I chose coarsely today! I then spent the next five minutes hunting for the light muscovado sugar. I know I had bought some the other day, but after emptying my cupboard of all the various bags of flour and sugar I couldn’t find it. It was only when I started removing the packets I realised the sugar was in a cardboard box not a bag, so I had already taken it out of the cupboard assuming it was cornflour or something similar.
With the sugar found, this was added to the bowl, together with the eggs, flour, baking powder and mixed spice. I decided at first not to use my electric whisk and to mix this by hand, but after a few minutes I realised this mixture was quite dense so the electric whisk came out to assist! The mixture wasn’t quite dropping consistency so Mary suggests adding a tablespoon of milk. This was added and the mixture mixed again. The kitchen was smelling lovely, in fact it smelt very much of Christmas – I think it must have been the orange and mixed spice!
The mixture was spooned into the loaf tin and levelled. It was then into the oven for an hour. After approximately 10 minutes the house was beginning to smell divine, even my daughter wandered in from the garden to see what the smell was!
With about 15 minutes of baking left for the cake, I thought I should get on with slicing the orange. The pith was cut away – I think the pith on the orange must have been a good centimetre thick as I seemed to be left with a very small orange, almost half the size it had been. This was thinly sliced and put to one side.
The cake was removed from the oven after an hour and the thinly sliced orange was placed on the top. This was then brushed with clear honey and the cake popped back into the oven for another 15 minutes. By this time the top of the cake was a lovely deep golden brown.
The cake was left to cool for a few minutes then it was turned out. This was quite difficult to do as the orange on the top wasn’t really stuck to the cake as it had been put on the top after the cake had firmed up. One piece of orange fell off whilst it was being turned out of the tin, but this was quickly put back on.
The cake itself I thought was quite dense, but the flavour was good. I think if I make it again I would put it in two small tins to make a deeper cake and I don’t think I’d bother with the sliced orange on top, I don’t think it really added much to the flavour of the cake it was really just for decoration. We still have some left, so it’s obviously not a great hit with the family – but I did make Smartie Cookies as well from Jo Wheatley’s book which I think probably went down a bit better than this cake!