Always having something to say is a much underrated quality. Pregnant silences embarrass me, I’ve always felt the need to fill air time.
Years ago I had a stonker of a first date with a man who went on to become my boyfriend. I couldn’t work out what it was about the date that was going so well, apart from 3 large bucket type glasses of red, until just before the end when said datee declared that he always made sure he had 3 subjects prepared before a date. They needed to be non controversial, but interesting enough to engage another human being in conversation. Hence he never endured an awkward silence when looking for a girl to love.
It’s a really good job I’m not dating these days. I only have a few pet subjects and they’re almost all yawn inducing. I’m good at chatting about cake. I’m pretty good with baby/child anecdotes. Oh and I can dramatise my birth stories to fit the audience in an appropriate way. For first time Mums I play down the pain and drama, for those who have been there and have the scars to prove it I ham it up. I can verge on comedic.
Outside of these subjects, I’m done for. So, did I ever tell you my tale about a carrot and almond cake?
Carrot & almond layer cake
Makes 1 very large three layered cake
For the cake:
- 350g dark brown sugar
- 350mls sunflower oil
- 6 large eggs at room temperature
- 300g grated carrot (about 6 medium carrots)
- 200g raisins
- 200g flaked almonds
- 1 tsp orange blossom water
- 350g wholemeal self raising flour
- 2 tsp bicarbonate soda
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
For the icing:
- 80g soft butter
- 160g icing sugar
- 250g of tinned caramel
- Icing pens in chocolate and/or caramel (Mine were from Sainsburys but these are similar.)
Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and grease and line 3 x 20cm cake tins. Beat the brown sugar and oil together until well combined, then add the eggs and mix well. Add the carrot, raisins, almonds and orange blossom water and stir. Stir in the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg until completely combined and split evenly between the 3 tins. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the cakes are well risen, golden and a skewer comes out of the centre of the cake clean. Cool on a wire rack until completely cool.
Make the icing by beating the 80g soft butter with the icing sugar until very light and airy looking, like mousse flecked with air. This takes about 7 minutes in a stand mixer, longer with a handheld or wooden spoon. Then add the tinned caramel, it’s available in large supermarkets, or you could make your own. Mix well and then spread a third onto each cake and then layer together. Use the icing pens to draw a pretty pattern on the top then serve.