Calling All Master Bakers

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I have a funny story to tell you about the photograph above, but first I have a request. My husband John has a birthday coming up in a few weeks and I need the very best carrot cake recipe you have. If  you’ve got one that others rave about then I want a chance to bake for him. So please send me your favorite and let me give it a try.

Now about that story…. A few months ago, John and I had been out for a little walk and decided to stop by the pub before walking home. As is my way, I had my camera with me and although I don’t usually take pictures that aim quite so directly  into someone’s home, I’m afraid I did that day. Walking by a charming 200 year old cottage that I frequently pass on my runs and walks, I saw the carrots in the picture above hanging in the kitchen window. No one was around and it wasn’t like I was peeping in or anything plus the road is very close to the cottage. Because it’s so close, I was walking only a couple of feet from the window making it easy to snap two discreet pictures very quickly. I didn’t see anyone and I thought no one saw me. Remember now, we live in a village with about 500 people and sometimes I bump into people at the pub who might recognize me. Usually it’s because they know me now since I’ve been here off and on for the last 19 months and I’m pretty friendly and not at all shy. Well, a few weeks go by and John and I are in the pub on a Saturday afternoon and I go up to the bar to get a refill for John and to say hello to my favorite bartender Roger who you see below.

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While I’m at the bar, a man who is buying drinks for his daughter and wife turns to me and says something along the line of, ” You’re not  from here are you?”  Okay, I can’t remember exactly what he said, but in the course of our conversation I find out where he’s from because I can tell he’s not a local. It turns out he and his wife are staying temporarily with his daughter and her partner in that sweet little cottage I think of as Carrot Cottage even though it’s really named after a flower not a vegetable. His daughter was new to the village so I had not had a chance to meet her yet. Going over to the table I introduced myself and asked her about the carrots I saw hanging in the window a few weeks earlier. Since I’m living in a country with different customs as well as expressions that can get you into trouble such as, ” Stop being such a pain in my fanny ” because words may have a totally different meaning, I assume this hanging your carrots thing must be unique to the UK.

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As I’m describing what I saw that day she said, ” Did you have a camera with you?”  ” Well…yes,” I say thinking, ” uh oh.” She said I thought I saw someone out there taking pictures and told my partner Colin, (not his real name)  “I think there’s a woman out there taking pictures of your carrots!” As she said this, I felt kind of silly, but only for a moment. I mean, I think I managed to get a really nice picture of a bunch of carrots. Thank goodness their windows were so clean. It turns out the carrots on a string had no meaning other than he’d just washed them and was giving them a chance to air dry.  I haven’t seen them since, but I always do a quick glance at the window whenever I go by now. I thought I might print out the photograph so that it is in a greeting card form and leave it behind for them with a personal note and maybe a little carrot cake for two.

Remember….John’s birthday is fast approaching so please send me those carrot cake recipes. If you leave your recipe in the comment section we can all have a chance to sample some versions different from the ones we normally use. Everyone except me…I don’t have a carrot cake recipe of my own yet.

7 thoughts on “Calling All Master Bakers

  1. I’ve no oven, so I don’t bake but we make a nice grated carrot pudding out here in India. We call it gajar ka halwa. Wash, peel and grate some carrots. Boil them in a wok with a couple of spoonfuls of sugar and several cups of milk until you have a thick paste. In the course of boiling you may add some raisins and cashew nuts to the mixture. Before the boiling process is completed you may add a few teaspoonfuls of cream..best enjoyed in winter months.

    Try it at Christmas or even Halloween!

  2. what a great story. the windows really must be super clean to get a photo like that just passing by someone’s cottage?
    it sounds like such a wonderfully quaint town.
    you have a lot of birthday celebrations so close together.

  3. Harry Eastwood has a lovely recipe in her book Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache- (‘healthy’ and natural cakes ….mmmmm)
    Let me know if you’d like to try it and I can send it to you!

  4. My late husband Gary’s favourite dessert/cake was carrot cake and I tried different recipes over the years. This one was his (and our son’s) favourite, and I made it many times. It’s supposed to serve 10 and makes a large rectangular cake – sometimes I halved the ingredients when it was just for us.

    Cake

    1-1/2 c. oil (I used Wesson in U.S.)
    2 c. sugar
    4 eggs
    2 c. flour
    2 tsp. soda
    1 tsp. salt
    3 tsp. cinnamon
    2 tsp. vanilla
    3 c. grated carrots

    OK to freeze.

    Preparing: 15 min.
    Baking: 45 min.

    Combine sugar and oil and add eggs. Sift flour, soda, salt and cinnamon together. Add to sugar mixture and beat well. Add vanilla and grated carrots. Bake in three 8-inch layer cake pans which have been well greased (I never did this – only used a large rectangular baking pan). Bake at 325 degrees for 45 min. (~165 degrees C.) When cool ice with Cream Cheese Icing (a must!).

    Cream Cheese Icing (also OK to freeze)

    1 stick margarine (converting the ‘stick’ to Aussie is what drives me most crazy … but worth doing!)
    8 oz. cream cheese (Philadelphia in U.S., of course …)
    1 pkg. confectioners sugar (not sure how much in grams – sorry! – in the U.S. it was one of those ‘standard’ boxes)
    2 tsp vanilla

    Preparing: 10 minutes … makes enough for 3 layers or a nice THICK topping of one big layer.

    I tried various recipes that had things like orange juice, crushed pineapples, coconut, etc. — but the above was the best I thought – pure and simple – you could probably cut down the sugar in both the cake and frosting but I don’t think I ever did … the cake is nice and moist and carrot-y! And it’s EASY.

    It’s from a cookbook circa 1968 that my mother used a lot and later gave a copy to me when I got married – called ‘Forum Feasts’ from The Forum School in Waldwick, NJ — a school for developmentally disabled children where my mom and I both volunteered at different times. It’s one of the few cookbooks I brought to Australia with me from the U.S.

    Cheers and Happy Birthday John!

  5. I think I might just give that carrot cake recipe a try too. I love carrot cake, and zucchini bread so if anyone has a recipe for that I would be in heaven. I lost mine in one of my countless moves over the years

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