My three best friends at High School were Nikki, Claire and Louise and we did everything together. I had Home Economics with Nikki and Louise, who were the leading ladies of the class. We were to bake a carrot cake one session and I crashed in late to the class with my basket of ingredients. There I was surrounded by chaos, half the carrots on the floor, bananas turning brown and sweat pouring out of my upper lip. Looking over, it was if they were dancing to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake; calm, poised and reflective.
Comparing our creations at the end of the class, mine was as flat as a pancake. “What flour did you use Anna-maria?” asked the H.E. teacher. “Self-raising.” I replied. “Are you sure? Let’s have a look.” Plucking the bag of flour out of my basket, I discovered it was plain. My face glowed red. Whatsmore, it was pointed out to me that I was sporting a flour moustache. I didn’t pick up a whisk again until my mid-thirties.
This recipe originates from Delia Smith, the prima donna of the culinary world.
Cake: 225g (8oz) self-raising flour * 2 tsp baking powder * 140g (5oz) soft light brown sugar * 55g (2oz) shelled walnuts, chopped * 85g (3oz) carrots, wash, trimmed and grated * 2 ripe bananas * 2 eggs, beaten * 145ml (¼ pint) sunflower oil
Topping: 255g (9oz) mascarpone or cream cheese * 3 tbsp icing sugar * 2 tsp vanilla essence * chopped nuts, for decoration * grated carrot, for decoration (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm/8 inch round cake tin with a circle of greaseproof paper. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar. Add the nuts, carrots and bananas, mixing lightly. Make a well in the centre, adding the eggs and oil, then beat until well blended.
Put the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour, until the cake is golden brown and shrinking from the side of the tin. Turn out, remove the paper and place on a wire rack to cool.
Make the topping by placing all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well until smooth. Spread over the cake and rough up the surface with a fork. Leave to cool in the fridge for half an hour to harden slightly. Take out and store in a cool place until serving.
I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book, FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.
There are more recipes in the section TRADITIONAL PUDDINGS, a selection of the best of British cakes and desserts.