Saturday, 31 August 2013

Rainford Show 2013

After coming second last year I thought I might be in with a chance this time... Alas, it was not meant to be as I didn't even get placed! :( The category I chose was Carrot Cake. As is usual there was no info as to how you should interpret this so it was left to the baker to interpret wisely. I, it seems, did not! Tray bake! 

I used my trusty and massively well tested Hummingbird recipe but in hindsight I probably should have used a more traditional one. 

Anyway here's my effort, and pictures of the winners too! 

I originally wanted to to cover the whole cake with frosting but I got tired and just did the top. I actually think it looked quite lovely like this, though definitely not my best carrot cake offering.

It took keen precision to get those layers equal! Cue scales

The village hall.

The carrot cakes. 

1st Place.

2nd Place.

3rd Place.


Thursday, 29 August 2013

Cranberry and Pistachio Cake

Something a bit different created for a coffee and catch up with a friend. Not something I'd usually try as it seemed a bit faffy but it paid off. Some really wonderful flavours and looked pretty too.

The flavours are definitely not the usual due to the large amount of ground pistachio and orange blossom water in the icing but don't be put off! This is wonderfully moist and satisfying cake. 



  • 8oz/225g very soft unsalted butter
  • 8oz/225g caster sugar
  • 5 medium free-range/organic eggs, at room temperature
  • 6oz/185g plain flour, sifted
  • 4oz/115g unsalted pistachios, finely ground
  • 4oz/115g dried cranberries
  • 2tbsp orange flower water
  • Grated orange zest   
  • Butter for greasing tin

For the icing

  • 4oz/115g white icing sugar, sifted
  • Flat tspn butter
  • 2 tbsp orange flower water

To decorate

  • 1 tbsp whole pistachios
  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.

Grease a deep cake tin with butter and line with greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until fluffy and pale.

Separate eggs and put the whites in a spotlessly, grease-free bowl and put the yolks into a heatproof bowl (this is the start of the faffiness).

Place the bowl with the yolks over a pan of hot water (not boiling); whisk with an electric hand whisk until they pale, thick, foamy and the mix falls back into the bowl leaving a ribbon-like trail. Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water otherwise you’ll end up with cooked egg.

Remove bowl from the pan and whisk for a few minutes more until cold, otherwise if it is too hot it will melt the creamed butter.

Combine the thickened eggs into the creamed butter and then gently fold in the flour, ground pistachios, cranberries, grated orange zest and orange flower water.

Whisk the egg whites until firm but not stiff. Add a large dollop of whites into the cake mix and stir to slacken. With a large metal spoon, gently fold in the rest of the whites in 3 batches. When thoroughly combined, spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin, level mix making a small dip in the centre so it rises evenly. Bake for about 1 to 1½ hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (check after an hour). If the cake looks as if it’s browning too quickly, cover with either a piece of foil or some greaseproof paper.

Remove the cake from the oven, put the tin on a wire cooling rack and leave for 5 minutes before unmoulding the cake. Leave it to cool completely before icing.


Put all icing ingredients into a small pan. Heat gently and stir until smooth and the butter has melted. If the icing is stiff add a little water. Pour the warm icing over the cake.

Crush pistachios, sprinkle over cake and dot with cranberries.