When you are young, it's hard to imagine that someday you will be old. Before I hit 55, I used to wonder what it would feel like to be "middle-aged". Would I grow old gracefully, or would I become one of those curmudgeonly old birds like Jenny Eclair and Germaine Greer, stars of the hilarious TV series, Grumpy Old Women?
Since retiring from full time work a couple of years ago, I've definitely started to gripe about a few things: the ever-changing weather; neighbours who won't mow their lawns or weed their gardens; drivers that tailgate or weave in and out of traffic; teenagers who walk and text at the same time without looking where they're going; and children running through the library screaming their lungs out – to list just a few. Are you with me?
I've also become something of penny-pincher too. And with good reason. Since when did a slice of cake cost eight dollars!? Yes, I know that restaurants have overheads, but come now. Not only is that an outrageously expensive piece of cake, but one must wait ages before the waitress brings the cake to the table too. Gah. What's wrong with her. Can't she see that we're old and running out of time on this earth.
Of course, I'm writing this in a most facetious manner, dear friends, but you do see my point, don't you.
It was after a recent outing to a local café in a trendy part of the city that I took to the kitchen to create THE BEST carrot cake ever. I baked it with the mindset that it wouldn't costa de lotta. My sous chef and chief taste tester, Peter, agrees, that it is the best carrot cake he's ever eaten. The macadamia oil and grated apple help keep the cake moist for a few days, should it last that long. I've made it several times now and feel that my recipe is a keeper.
Enjoy the best carrot cake recipe a la Lizzy.
THE BEST CARROT CAKE RECIPE A LA LIZZY
125g/1 cup plain (AP) flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup rapadura sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground vanilla*
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon mixed peel pieces
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (save 2 tablespoons for decoration)
2 cups (3 large) carrots, grated
1 red apple (150g), grated
150 mls macadamia oil
2 free-range eggs, whisked
For the cream cheese icing:
100g cream cheese (low fat is good too), softened
1/2 teaspoon ground vanilla
40g butter, softened
200g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of the toasted chopped walnuts, to decorate
To make the cake.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C. Grease an 18-cm (or 20-cm for a lower rise) cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.
Combine the dry ingredients: the flour, baking powder, sugar, spices, peel and two tablespoons of the walnuts in a Pyrex mixing bowl and mix to combine making sure there are no lumps. With a sturdy spatula or large serving spoon, fold in the grated carrot and apple, then mix in the macadamia oil and the whisked eggs. Stir until combined, but do not beat.
Pour the cake batter into your prepared tin and bake for 45-60 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre tests clean. Bear in mind that the cake baked in the 20-cm tin will be lower rise and the middle will cook more quickly than the higher-rise 18-cm tin. Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the cream cheese icing in a separate Pyrex dish and mix with a sturdy spatula until the icing is smooth and there are no lumps. Pop the dish into the refrigerator and allow it to chill while the cake is cooking.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes, then remove the cake from the tin and leave on a wire rack and allow it to cool completely.
Using a palette knife, spread the icing decoratively over the top of the cake. Sprinkle with the remaining walnuts. Store in an airtight container. Serves 8-10.
Notes: the fresher the spices, the better the cake. I suggest grinding them fresh for your baking. *You can make ground vanilla bean powder by grinding those dried vanilla beans you've been storing with your caster sugar. It has an intense vanilla flavour. I love it. If you don't have access to dried vanilla beans, use good quality vanilla extract.
An original recipe by Liz Posmyk, Good Things. Words and images copyright.
So tell me dear readers, are you still a youngster? Have you ever thought about growing older? Or are you in the prime of life already, as described by Roosevelt. And do you agree with what the good gentleman said?
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.