Nick is rarely fazed by a recipe and abides by the theory that as long as you can read you can do anything. Consequently he frequently tackles cakes that I would have ruled out as too complicated or fiddly. This one, which he baked for a CCC meeting last year, required caramelised carrots.
I like a good carrot cake but never thought I would be married to someone who was prepared to slave over a hot stove for ages in order to caramelise carrots for a cake.
It was worth the effort, although I'm glad it was his effort, not mine. As a carrot cake it was delicious and the sweetness of the carrots on top made it even more so. It looked amazing, too. You can see the recipe on the BBC website here.
For the cake
200g light soft brown sugar, plus 3 tblsp
150ml light rapeseed oil (or vegetable oil)
100g natural yoghurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g self raising flour
1 tblsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
250g coarsely grated carrot
For the caramelised carrots
225-250g small or baby carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
juice of 1 of the oranges above
4 tblsp light soft brown sugar
First make the caramelised carrots. Put them in a single layer in a large saucepan or frying pan. Add the juice of 1 orange, the butter, sugar and enough water to cover them by just 1 cm.
Bring to the boil and cook until the water has almost evaporated and the carrots are left in a sticky syrup. Keep an eye on the pan so that the carrots don't catch.
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160 C / 140 fan / gas mk 3. Grease a 23cm round cake tin. Gently lift the carrots out of the pan and arrange cut side down in the base of the tin. Reserve the pan and syrup for later.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, oil, yoghurt, eggs, vanilla and the zest from 2 of the oranges. In a large bowl, sift in the flour and spices, then add the grated carrot and mix together. Stir in the liquid ingredients and mix until smooth. Spoon carefully over the carrots in the tin, being careful not to disturb their arrangement.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until done. Leave in the tin to cool for 20 minutes before turning out onto a plate or stand.
While the cake is cooling in the tin, add the juice of 2 of the oranges to the pan containing the reserved syrup with the 3 tblsp brown sugar. Simmer until slightly reduced then stir in the zest of the third orange. Spoon the syrup over the cake once it has been turned out.
Cuts into 8-10 slices.