The first year we truly started to eat seasonally, no longer nipping out to supermarkets to pick up things, but relying almost completely on our box scheme and farmer's market, we found it rather tough. We thought we knew veg, we were smug vegetarians. Summer graced us with glorious tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Autumn held pumpkins and courgettes by the armful. We were doing fine, this seasonality malarkey was great. Until the strange shaped objects started appearing on our doorstep as winter deepened."What on earth is this?!" cried N in horror as he pulled a large brown stick-like object out of our box one particularly dark, damp evening in January. "They've even run out of parsnips now" he exclaimed, "they've resorted to sticks and twigs!" It was black salsify, and the first of many new introductions over the winter months.
Now? We're well seasoned at seasonality, we scoff at another root in the box (and cheat a whole lot by asking for the "deluxe" box during winter in the hope of getting something that isn't brown or white!) However, there are still times when I struggle with winter veg, and for some reason it's often the carrots that catch me out. I don't know why. I love them raw, and happily munch on them on days when I remember to pack them in my lunch. But more often than not they are forgotten about and then hastily added to meals at the last minute rather than being the star of the show.Then suddenly a few weeks ago I started craving carrot cake. I think I needed some brightness, a dose of vitamin D, or B, or C, or all three. I needed something that was fresh and yet comforting. I needed an all-rounder of cakes. One that wasn't just winter or summer, so no ginger cake (winter for me) or victoria sponge (the epitome of summer) would do. It had to be the perennial classic: carrot cake.So I dashed home, I hunted out the recipe and started pulling ingredients out of the fridge and cupboards. Then the huge flaw in my poorly-laid plan hit. I didn't have any carrots! A fit of "I must eat them before they go bendy" had struck and they'd been snuck into lunches and devoured. Oops!
But this week, I finally successed. I got in slightly earlier from work, and I even remembered the carrots. I managed to pull together the other ingredients, and off I went. It was worth the wait. I always forget how much I love this recipe. I didn't have icing ingredients, but I don't think it needs it. It lacks nuts for the same reason. This is my very own carrot cake recipe, and it makes me proud. I felt even prouder when N said "is there booze in this?" in a very approving tone, and I had to admit that no, there wasn't, and yet it tastes moist, and spiced and indulgent enough for you to expect a boozy addition.
Ladies and gentlemen, as an offering on this dark, damp, miserable Wednesday evening in February, a little something that I hope will lift your hearts and spirits.
Rebecca's very own carrot cake
I make this in a loaf pan, and sometimes ice it, and sometimes don't. It an adaptation of my pumpkin cake recipe, and one day I will post a marmalade version too. Until then, plain carrot it is. This manages to feel both righteous and indulgent. I wish I made it more often.
300g grated carrot
100ml light olive oil
175g self-raising flour
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
Grease and line a large loaf pan (mine is about 4" x 10"). Preheat the oven to 150C.
In a large bowl beat the eggs. Then add the oil, sugar, carrot, raisins and mix. Then add in the flour, spices, and soda. Mix until combined. Pour into the loaf pan, and bake for aprox 1 hour 15mins (mine sometimes takes less, keep an eye one it) or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool before removing from the tin.
p.s. can we not mention the bad photos and the lack of good light here at the moment? Thanks, you're the best.