I delivered this cake.
It got eaten and people loved it but it really did test me on a few levels. Why?.. Well you asked.
I struggle with a lack of self belief. Now I have said it, and I feel very brave. I don’t always believe that my abilities are unique or that I have any abilities at all. I am sure there are a lot of people like me. However, for a person with diminished self belief I love to create. It makes my world feel fulfilled and it makes me feel like I have done something for someone. Even so I am very shy about presenting these little gifts to people. Thank fully, I am surrounded by people who encourage me on a daily basis so I can overcome my doubts one day at at time. I am very eager to make people happy through food even when I have only hours to do it.
Diary of a Carrot Cake
A couple of days ago I was on my way out when I got a phone call asking if I would make a cake at short notice. It was for a person that I like a lot, and she had decided to throw herself a party. She is able to throw a fantastic party when she has the mind to, because she owns a bar in Marrickville. So, despite the fact that I was going to be out all night Friday and had planned to spend the whole day and night out on Saturday, I said I would squeeze it in for Sunday. Between Saturdays appointments and 6 pm Saturday night I shopped for ingredients. I packed them all into a box and headed out to my sisters house where we had planned to have dinner and a couple of glasses of wine while making an unusual attempt at relaxing. Instead I started the construction of this cake.
She wanted a gluten free Carrot and Caramel Cake and I knew this was what she wanted even before she asked. I knew, not because I have any kind of mind power or ESP, it was just that she had gone mental for a cake I had made for another of my dearest friends, just recently. (cake below) The bottom layer was chocolate cake but the top layer was a gluten free carrot cake with caramel icing and she had gone bonkers for it. So, lets face it it was a forgone conclusion.
Instead of relaxing at my sisters house, I turned her oven on and made a couple of cake layers. She’s only just moved into her house so the oven remained untested. I am pleased to report that it works. At the same time I had a number of glasses of wine as planned, cooked a BBQ and made an un-churned ice cream dessert for the next night so she could relax with her family and scoff ice cream . Yes, I was pretty tired on Sunday morning. (It could have been that last glass of wine). So after
2 headache tablets we ate breakfast together I packed up my cake layers and headed home to make caramel and construct a cake.
Sounds quite simple except it was a 38 C day (100 F) and my house is at least 5-6 degrees hotter than the weather outside. A block of butter on the kitchen counter melted in around 10 minutes. It was easy to beat the butter cream icing but more difficult to keep it on the cake. I made a cream cheese based buttercream so that it would have more solid body. It took a very long time to get the four layered cake chilled. The party started after 5 pm and would run till the wee hours but I had hoped that I would be able to get it to it’s destination before too many people crowded into the bar. I left home with the well chilled cake in a pre-chilled car at 7.30 pm. This cake has a dripping caramel layer and the caramel that needs to be just warm when poured over a chilled buttercream. Yes, things were not quite as controlled as I would normally like them, but this isn’t the worst part of the story by far.
When I pulled up there were a lot of people sitting outside the bar and there was a band on the stage on the makeshift platform right in the doorway. I began to doubt myself . I had been told it was a private party and we could enter the bar via a back lane, but with people sitting outside I began to think I had misheard the day and as I parked the car some distance away I doubted myself. Had I misheard, why had I not double checked the invite she had sent, had I made the cake on the wrong day. Would I have a puddle of cream cheese on the floor of my car? I was so over myself. I know it is stupid but this is a big and heavy cake . You can’t just go waltzing down the main street with it, it needs plans all of it’s own. And when you doubt yourself everything looks scary.
Unable to leave it in the car and ask questions I picked it up and started walking down the street. A small round boy of about 5 looked up at the cake in my hands and stared till his father called him. He tore his eyes off the caramel popcorn and moved on. That was a little piece of comedy I appreciated in my time of duress. When I got to the bar there were 3 ladies sitting outside at a table with a spare chair. So, I sat down and put the cake on the table dwarfing their drinks and stopping their conversation.
“Are you at Fiona’s party?” I asked. After the surprise of having a big caramel cake at their table subsided a little, they told me there was a private party out the back and that I should just walk through the bar and out to the courtyard of the bar. “I can’t push my way through a bar with this cake”. I said in disbelief or maybe it was fear. On one hand I felt relieved that I had the right day and on the other I felt mortified that I would have to struggle my way through a bar, past the band and through a tightly packed room full of people. By this time a nice man had stepped up and was telling me that all I needed to do was hold it above my head and yell, ” coming through!”. He must have seen the look on my face because he very kindly asked “Do you want me to carry it for you?” I could have kissed him. He promptly took the cake from me and into the bar where he held it high and danced his way past the crowd who cheered and whooped and craned to get a better look at the cake flying by. He pushed through this crowd and out the back and through the next lot that just as enthusiastically cheered the arrival of the cake. Sure every one was starring and asking questions but I was so relieved to be here, with the cake, only slightly covered in cream cheese icing.
Eventually the bar was emptied out all except for the invited guests. The cake was put onto the bar and we all waited ….I am getting old, cause I just love this bit where we can laugh and hear stories about friends and learn things we don’t know from their closest family members. We sang happy birthday and people stepped up to get cake. A guy standing at the bar looked at me and said “If you cut then, I’ll hand it out”. When you make a cake you always get caught up in the cutting, let’s face it, you do know that cake more intimately than any one else. After we had distributed the cake he took a big piece and declared it was a good cake, to which I said . Well thank you!. He looked at me, a little surprised “Did you make it?. That is one hell of a good cake”. Much to my relief, the cake was eaten in no time
So without further ado here’s the recipe . I have no comment on my own stupidity.
Carrot and Caramel Cake
- 300 gm carrot grated (around 3 large)
- 4 whole large eggs
- 310 ml plain oil or 1 1/4 cups of (veg, rice bran, macadamia)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 200 gm caster sugar (1 cup)
- 100 gm brown sugar (1/2 cup)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 1 cup almond meal (100 gm- 3.5oz)/ flour
- 140 gm gluten free flour (1 cup) - I always use Aldi's mix
- 1 teaspoon heaped cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (or any spices you like 2-3 teaspoons)
- 100 gm nuts chopped
Frosting (see notes)
- 500 gm butter unsalted (softened)
- 500 gm cream cheese (softened)
- 300 gm icing sugar sifted
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 150 gm caster sugar (3/4 cup)
- 1 Tablespoons water
- 50 gm butter cold cubed
- 2 tablespoons cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
- 1 packet popcorn microwave (1 sachet)
- 200 gm caster sugar (1 cup)
- 2 Tablespoons glucose syrup
- 1 Tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon Juice
Spray and line the tin with baking paper. Set the oven to 170 C/ 340 F. Or a bit lower for fan forced
- Put the eggs, oil, vanilla, spices and sugars in the bowl of a mixer and whip till light.( you can do this by hand)
- Mix the dry ingredients well.
- Grate the carrot and then toss with the dry ingredients- you can use your hands to do this it works best.
- Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and carrot and mix well.
- This is where you will decide how many layers you are making from each mixture. You can divide this mix in half for thinner layers and make another mixture to divide in half for 4, or simply make this into 1 delicious cake.
- Pour into the paper lined and greased cake tin and bake for approximately 40- 50 minutes for each layer. Check that the middle of the cake is cooked by piecing it with a skewer or knife. The tip needs to come out clean.
- I like to cool each layer and refrigerate.
- Beat the butter til light. Add the cream cheese and continue beating till very light. Add the lemon juice and the icing ( powdered ) sugar and then beat till very light and fluffy. Approximately 5-8 minutes. If you want your frosting sweeter add just a little more icing sugar
- Separate 1/4 of this for the inside layers. You can add a little more powdered sugar to this mixture or even caramel extract if you like.
- * Note the more sugar you add the softer it will become. Temperature will also play a part in the amount of sugar you might like to use. The hotter it is the less you will need.
- Once the layers are stacked, use a scant amount of the butter cream to make a crumb coat. This means using just enough butter cream to seal the crumbs into the first painfully thin coat.
- Refrigerate till firm and then cover with the remaining buttercream. Smooth with a long pallet knife. Chill completely.
- Put the sugar into a pot with the tablespoon of water. Cook on high swirling a little to incorporate all the sugar. Cook till starting to colour watch very carefully and turn off the heat when it is a golden brown colour. Add the cream immediately, stand back it will splutter. Break up the butter and whisk into the caramel mix. Add the salt 1/2 at a time, and let it dissolve before adding more to taste .
- If your caramel forms a skin and is very set then add a tablespoon of water and stir till it mixes in. When only just warm pour 1/2 to 3/4 over the top of the cake and tilt so that it spreads. It will keep running for a while so put onto a tray and back into the fridge to set. The caramel will not be spreadable with a spatula, so you may need extra poured in spots to fill the gaps.
- Put the popcorn into the microwave and pop as per the packet instructions. Put half of it onto a paper lined tray and sprinkle with a little extra salt. (eat the other half)
- Put the sugar and glucose into a pot with the water and the lemon juice. Heat till the sugar dissolves swirling to incorporate the sugar crystals at the sides. Cook on high till the colour starts to change to a golden colour. Put the popcorn into the pot give it a quick mix and pour onto the tray, spreading with a wooden spoon. Alternatively pour the hot syrup over the popcorn on the tray, moving the popcorn about to get covered with a little praline.
- ** be very careful with this hot liquid. Once caramel is on the popcorn let it cool completely before touching!
- Break the popcorn up. Put the popcorn onto the cake just before serving. It can be frozen to keep it crunchy and used to decorate anytime- just before serving
!Cream Cheese Frosting- The recipe above will make enough for a small to medium cake.
!for a single or 2 tiered cake this will be enough for the layers and the outside.