It’s the television highlight of the year: The Great British Bake-Off is back! There are few things I enjoy more than settling in on Sunday night for a TV marathon of Bake-Off and Masterchef. I’m intrigued at how Mel and Sue can state so confidently that they have “the best amateur bakers in the country”, when there is no reference to how they are auditioned and some of them are, frankly, a bit rubbish. But then, I do sneakily enjoy the potential for disaster as much as I love the really exquisite bakes. The best thing about the programme for me though is how it inspires me to bake even more and work harder to improve my technique and presentation.
The programme also reminds me of the fact that I mainly bake cupcakes, but it’s hard to stop when they’re so cute and versatile. This is my mum’s default recipe for carrot cakes, taken from the Primrose Bakery. The only change I made was switching their cinnamon for ginger, which I was very happy with. The cake are really dark and delicious, and the icing works beautifully with the sponge. Perfect for enjoying with a brew and a bit of Bake-Off.
Makes 12-14, from Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery
225g carrots, peeled, trimmed and finely grated
130g caster sugar
120ml corn oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
grated zest of 1 orange
120g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 batch orange cream cheese buttercream (see below)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a muffin tray with paper cases. Mix the carrot and raisins in a bowl and set aside for later.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together for a few minutes.
3. Add the oil, vanilla and orange zest and beat well again.
4. Measure the flour, bicarb, salt and ginger into a separate bowl and sift into the egg mixture in batches, beating well after each addition.
5. When it is all combined, add the carrot and raisins.
6. Spoon the batter into the prepared cases, filling them about two thirds full. Bake for about 25 minutes – as you can see, they turn out quite dark.
7. Leave on a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
8. Make the orange cream cheese buttercream: place 175g full-fat cream cheese, 450g icing sugar, 125g softened butter and the grated zest of 1 orange in a large mixing bowl. Beat well until it makes a smooth buttercream – it takes a few minutes with a handheld mixer. Ice each cake. Delicious as they are or with a decorative carrot or half a walnut.