I’m back…again. I didn’t mean to stay away so long but the days just came and went and soon it was months…and months before I found my way back here. I guess the truth of the matter is, I just didn’t have much to say. Like you Dear Reader, I have been hunkered down at home, waiting for this crazy time we are all going through, to pass.
Although we may be going through this together, it hasn’t been the same experience for everybody. Lost jobs, lost homes, births and deaths, huge life events mourned and celebrated behind our masks. I’ve become aware that this pandemic has given me the gift of time and I have been thinking a lot how I have mostly wasted it. Wasted it down the Netlflix rabbit-hole, bingeing my way through mindless, seemingly endless movies and tv series. It’s funny how in the beginning I was so full of motivation – I was going to get SO MUCH DONE! Projects that had been put off for ages could finally be started….and completed! But here we are a year into this and its only recently that I started tackling that to do list. Thankfully, inspiration comes unexpectedly. Maybe it’s the longer, sunny days with their hint of Spring warmth that has me perking up, shaking off the cobwebs and getting starting to get things done.
Locked down, comfort food was a bit too comforting…I baked far too much, and far too often. Hearty stews and soups were in constant rotation. Good, stick to the ribs kind of food…and unfortunately my ribs are not the only place it stuck!
I made this cake one afternoon when it was a dreary day outside and the house felt dark and gloomy. It’s an easy recipe, not too fussy or taxing to tackle, which if I am being honest, is really the only kind of baking I ever want to do. Enjoyed with a cup of tea, it brought cheer to the afternoon.
Adapted from “At My Table” by Nigella Lawson
1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp fine sea salt
¾ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs (at room temperature)
¾ cup vegetable oil
1¾ cups carrots (peeled and coarsely grated)
1 cup walnut pieces (roughly chopped)
4½ tbsp candied ginger (finely chopped)
7 tbsp unsalted butter (soft)
1 cup confectioners' sugar (sieved if lumpy)
1 tsp cornstarch
4 oz full-fat cream cheese
1 tbsp fresh ginger (coarsely grated)
¼ cup walnut pieces (roughly chopped or crumbled)
1½ tbsp candied ginger (chopped)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease and line bottom of a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger and salt into a bowl and whisk together until mixed well and set aside.
Next, in a large bowl, beat the sugar, eggs and oil until they are really well mixed. Gradually add the flour mixture, making sure to scrape down sides of bowl as you go. The mixture may seem quite stiff at this point but the addition of the carrots will loosen it up. Add the carrots and then fold in 1 cup of chopped walnuts and 4½ tablespoons of candied ginger, until it is all evenly combined.
Pour batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the top and pop in the oven for 45–55 minutes. When it’s ready, the cake will be golden brown and beginning to shrink away from the edges of the pan and a cake tester will come out with a few crumbs stuck to it.
Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool in the cake pan.
Prepare the icing:
Beat the butter and confectioners' sugar together until creamy, then add in the cornstarch, followed by half of the cream cheese. Once well mixed, add the remaining cream cheese. Beat until combined, taking care not to overbeat as the icing will become runny.
Next, place the grated ginger into a double layer of paper towel and bring up corners to form a beggar’s purse. Hold the ginger over a small bowl and squeeze out ginger juice. Add this to the frosting and mix gently until combined. Cover and refrigerate.
Once the cake has completely cooled, take icing out of fridge and let sit for 20 minutes, until it was softened to a nice, spreadable consistency.
Remove cake from the pan and place on your prettiest plate or cake stand. Evenly spread the frosting on top of the cake creating little swirls as you go. Sprinkle the top with the remaining chopped walnuts and candied ginger.
Makes 8 to 12 slices, depending on how greedy you’re feeling.