Thursday, 8 September 2011

Zesty Carrot and Ginger Cake

What could symbolise the end of summer more
than these scorched sunflowers?
Field upon field of them all the way back to Istanbul.
The lovely long hot summer is over. 
The last couple of months spent in our village with new little granddaughter now 12 weeks old and thriving have drawn to an end.  This is the longest I have ever spent continuously in Assos. We have only been back a few days and I could turn right around and go back again. It's a magical place.

But no. On the other hand, our flat has never looked so inviting and above all, so civilized! To be back in my lovely city kitchen is great. My Assos kitchen is well-equipped but never as completely as here. Oh the bliss of having the right cake tins, all my spices, an oven where I don’t have to crouch down to see how things are doing, a bigger fridge, a huge work surface ...

It does feel wonderful.

Here is a marvellous cake recipe that I found by chance in a little BBC Good Food series reflecting cakes made with a veggie component.
Zesty Carrot and Ginger Cake: deliciously moist and tasty

It caught my eye as a friend of mine recently called me about similar recipes eg aubergine chocolate cake and the like, and to be frank, the idea didn’t appeal much at all. But here were similar recipes with pictures. I have said before, I think a good pic is essential towards the ultimate persuasion of going ahead with the recipe. At this point, let me be honest, this Carrot and Ginger Cake’s appeal  was that it was so un-villagey! And my loaf tin was the right size. I could do it without making any adjustments to anything.  AND I had the Golden Syrup!!  Those of you who live here and who are English, will know that the fact we can now buy it from any upmarket supermarket here in Istanbul  after years of bringing it back in our suitcases, is nothing short of miraculous.

special ingredients that I actually had!

The recipe turned out to be a winner. The combination of carrot and ginger works a treat and the smell while cooking was enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. It is also one of those wonder cakes that improves with age. Cuts better too. Do try it. Your family will love you for it! TT confessed to polishing off the last slices while enduring a bout of insomnia!

Ingredients for Zesty Carrot and Ginger Cake

Cuts into 8 slices

100g/4oz butter, plus extra for the tin

100g/4oz dark muscovado sugar (in Turkey you will use regular toz şeker with a bit of pekmez)

50g/2oz black treacle (I used pekmez)

50g/2oz golden syrup

Zest 1 orange

Zest and juice 1 lemon

1 large carrot, grated (you will need 140g/5oz flesh)


*5 balls stem ginger from a jar, finely chopped

175g/6oz self-raising flour OR plain flour plus 1 ½ tsp Baking Powder

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs

140g/5oz icing sugar


·         Heat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.

·         Butter then line a 900g loaf tin with a strip of baking parchment. Put the butter, sugar, treacle, syrup and half the zests into a large saucepan. Heat gently until everything has melted together.

gently heating all the ingredients in a pan

preparing the batter

·         Add the carrot, ¾ of the chopped ginger, all the flour (plus BP if using), bicarb, ¼ tsp salt, the ground ginger, pepper and eggs to the pan and stir well until you have a smooth batter. Pour into the tin and bake for 45 mins or until dark brown and risen and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool for 20 mins in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack.

For the icing:

·         Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the remaining zests, then stir in enough lemon juice (about 4 tsp should do it) to make a smooth, thick icing. Cover the surface of the icing with cling film until ready to decorate the cake.

icing the cake

·         When the cake is completely cool (important!), spread the icing over the top and let it dribble down the sides. Scatter with the reserved chopped ginger. Allow to set, then cut into slices and serve.

zesty carrot and ginger cake - perfect with çay!

*The question of ginger for us in Turkey is vexed: ground ginger is easily found but in this form may be problematic.  In fact I have found it already chopped in little plastic bags when I was least expecting it. What ‘stem ginger in a jar’ is, I am not exactly sure. Luckily  I had a packet of stem ginger. I think possibly 'in a jar' means that the ginger is in some sort of syrup.
I think if you couldn’t find it, you would simply omit and possibly increase the amount of ground ginger.
I just thought of something else that may help: if your icing is a bit thick and you find it hard to spread, simply dip a knife into a glass of lukewarm water and try again.  Vive la différence!
If you are a ginger cake and carrot cake lover, this is for you!
Afiyet olsun!