Easy Carrot Cake Traybake

An easy autumn traybake that’s full of spice and topped with everything nice…
The Cardiff Cwtch: How to Bake Carrot Cake from Scratch

So, I came across a tweet a while back that posed a very important question to the world:  “If you could delete ONE type of cake for the remainder of eternity, what would it be?”  My answer to that one was Carrot Cake, and apparently it was the wrong answer because I immediately got told where to get off.  Look, it’s not that I hate carrot cake, it’s just that I had a really bad experience with a Costco Carrot Cake that put me off enjoying a slice for close to a decade.  Yeah.  It really was that bad.  It was just too sweet.  Not so much the cake itself, but the thick layer of cream cheese frosting on top made my fillings scream and by the time I was three bites in I was gagging and had to walk away.  I had to walk away from cake.  From CAKE!  I mean, that should be a crime, right?  I’ve avoided Carrot Cake and all its incarnations ever since.

I think the problem is that there are so many different recipes out there and – despite it generally being a very easy cake to make – there are so many different elements and additions that it’s got the potential to be absolutely to die for… or completely disastrous.  I mean, beyond the standard grated carrots added to the batter, some recipes suggest adding sultanas and other dried fruits (including pineapple, I’ve heard), some suggest nuts (should it be walnuts, or pecans?), and then there’s the all important spice mix – should you just stick to cinnamon, or spice things up a bit (ha ha) with a few more?  Don’t even get me started on the all important cream cheese frosting!

Anyway, recently I ate some really, really good Carrot Cake out in the States (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; they do Fall Cakes and Traybakes so much better out there than we do here in the UK), and I was willing to admit that I might have got this one wrong – that Carrot Cake shouldn’t be banished off the face of the planet.  So I decided to try making my own from scratch – complete with the dreaded Cream Cheese Frosting – to see if I could be convinced to fall back in love with Carrot Cake.  I researched a few recipes and came up with this very easy Carrot Cake Traybake. 🙂

The Cardiff Cwtch: Easy Carrot Cake TraybakeThe Cardiff Cwtch: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese and Buttercream Frosting
How to Store Carrot Cake

The problem with Carrot Cake is the frosting.  The cream cheese isn’t going last more than a couple of days sitting out on a counter, even if the cake is covered.  A Tray bake makes things a little easier because you can section off the slices, easily pop them into an airtight container and then store them in the fridge for up a week, or sneak a couple into the freezer to enjoy at a later date. 😉

The Cardiff Cwtch: Cosy Slice of Carrot Cake with a Cuppa and a Pupper!

Easy Carrot Cake Traybake

…cut off a corner and get cosy with a cuppa…
Cake Ingredients
  • 150g unsalted butter, melted
  • 150g light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml milk
  • 200g carrots, peeled and grated
  • 100g pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
Cream Cheese frosting
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cornflour
The Cardiff Cwtch: Carrot Cake with Buttercream Leaves
Method
  1. Grease and line a rectangular baking tray, then set your oven to 180°C.
  2. Grab a mixing bowl and stir together your melted butter and sugar, then stir in the eggs. Whisk everything until it’s nice and foamy, this should add in a little extra air to give your carrot cake a boost as it bakes.
  3. Next, fold in the flour, baking powder and spices – but make sure you don’t knock out the air you whisked in during step number two. Finally stir in the grated carrots and chopped pecans, then pour the mixture into the baking tin. Bake for 30 minutes, and then leave to cool.
  4. To make the cream cheese frosting, whip together the ingredients until smooth and then pop it in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up a little – it’ll save you trying to frost the cake with runny cream cheese!
  5. You could just leave it at that! There are so many different ways to decorate a carrot cake, but I fancied topping mine with these buttercream autumn leaves. All I did was piped some coloured buttercream onto baking paper in the shape of maple leaves (easier said than done!), refrigerated them until they set and then used them to finish off the cake. 🙂
The Cardiff Cwtch: Easy Carrot Cake Traybake with Cream Cheese and Cinnamon Frosting

So what do you reckon? Is carrot cake truly deserving of the title slot for best cake on the planet, because I’m still not convinced! When it’s good (and not from Costco) it’s lovely, don’t get me wrong, but I still wouldn’t pick it over a door wedge slice of this apple pie cake. What’s your favourite cake?  And, if you could banish one type of cake to the pits of hell, which would it be? ❥

Toffee Apple Cookies

Finally! Happy “Fall” Y’all
Toffee Apple Cookies

It’s officially the first day of Autumn, and officially – in my book anyway – the start of the best season of the year.  One of the best bits about coming home from holiday (aside from being reunited with my favourite fur-ball, obviously) was the thought of coming home to chunky knits, boots (ones that are perfect for stomping on perfectly crunchy leaves), cold air and lots and lots of baking involving apples.  I say that not because apple pies and crumbles and muffins are quintessentially autumnal (blimey, that’s a big phrase for a Monday afternoon…), but because I’ve actually got a tree full of the things for the very first time.

Back when Sunny and I moved into our house here in Cardiff three years ago, we bought a pair of apple trees (well, they were more like a couple of twigs really) for a couple of quid each.  And this year – almost as if by magic (because God knows what we did differently) – one of them is full of apples!  I’m going to be baking this Apple Pie Cake ten times over, I think! As well as these Toffee Apple Cookies.  I tried something similar whilst I was out in the States on holiday (controversial opinion, but America does “Fall” Baking so much better than we do) and had to come up with my own version, and here it is: a lovely soft cookie full of spiced apple pie filling and toffee chunks, and drizzled with a salted caramel sauce.  Once baked, warm them up in the microwave for thirty seconds for oozing toffee that won’t play havoc with your fillings! 😉 Just make sure you use a type of apple that doesn’t go too soggy and holds its shape when boiled – like pink lady or braeburn!

Toffee Apple Cookies
Toffee Apple Cookies
Toffee Apple Cookies
Ingredients
  • 150g of apples, diced into small pieces
  • 250ml water
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 50g of toffee, cut into small pieces
  • 125g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • salted caramel salt to serve (buy it in store, or try this recipe)
  • sea salt to serve
Toffee Apple Cookies
Method
  1. First things first, whip up the apple pie filling. Chop up your apples into small, cookie-sized chunks and pop them into a saucepan. Boil up in the water, along with the light brown sugar and cinnamon for about 20 minutes. The apples will be ready once they’ve softened, but still have a little bite to them.
  2. Set the oven to 180°C. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, cinnamon, caster sugar and dark muscovado sugar. Stir in the egg, then mix in the apple pie mix and toffee pieces. Stir in the flour to make a stiff dough, then spoon small blobs onto a lined baking tray – making sure they’ve got plenty of room to spread.
  3. Bake the cookies for twenty minutes, then transfer them onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
  4. To serve, warm them up in the microwave for thirty seconds and serve drizzled with caramel sauce and sprinkled with sea salt. Yum! 🙂

Have a lovely week! 🙂

Leftover Pumpkin Traybake

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I finally got around to carving up my pale pumpkin today, and I was faced with that annual dilemma; what the hell do I do with all those pumpkin guts?  I’ve been guilty of just chucking it all in the bin many a time, until last year, when I blitzed it all into a puree and attempted to make soup and pumpkin risotto.  But both were a massive flop and ended up in the bin anyway!  So this year I decided to make something sweet instead and settled on this spiced pumpkin traybake with cream cheese frosting and roasted pumpkin seeds on top.  I’m pretty happy with how it turned out… which is good, because there’s a whole tub of pumpkin goo in the fridge to get though!  I think I’ll be making batches loooong after Halloween is over with!  🙂

Leftover Pumpkin Traybake

Ingredients

  • 100g Pumpkin Puree (just blitz or boil and mash your pumpkin guts)
  • 100g Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (I roasted mine with salt and cinnamon for 10 mins)
  • 100g Brown Sugar
  • 150g Butter
  • 100g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100g Cream Cheese
  • 200g Icing Sugar
  1. Grease and line a deep rectangular baking tray and set the oven to 180°.
  2. Cream together 100g of butter with the brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger, then stir in the pumpkin puree.  
  3. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then stir into the main mix.
  4. Add the flour and baking power, then fold in to make a batter.  Spoon into your baking tray and bake for around 25 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean).  Once baked, allow it to cool completely before removing from the tin.
  5. To make the cream cheese frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar and stir until smooth.  Spread over the top of the cake, then cut into equal squares.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped pumpkin seeds.  Yum!

Hope everyone’s having a good week!  🎃

Apple Crumble Cake

I can’t decide what part of The Great British Bake Off I’m enjoying more this year, the bakes… or Noel Fielding’s patterned shirts.  Honestly, the ice-cream shirt (which I remembered seeing Zoella wear last year) had me furiously googling into the wee hours trying to track it down to no success.  True, GBBO just isn’t the same without Bezza, but I’m actually really enjoying it – and the cakes are just as inspiring as always; I mean, Kate’s sticky toffee apple caramel cake looked INSANE.  I’m going to have to give one of those a go nearer to bonfire night 🙂

Anyway, here’s a much, much plainer apple cake!  I love an easy loaf cake, and this one is full of chopped apples and cinnamon and topped with a crunchy, sugary crumble.  Another way of using up a couple of apples without going down the full-on crumble route.  We scoffed it with lots and lots of custard under a blanket in front of the TV, which – let’s be honest – is what Autumn is all about.

No recipe to this one because I didn’t measure anything out.  It was one of those “just chuck everything in and hope for the best” kind of days!  Have a great weekend everyone! ♡

Bramble Bars

I love this time of year.  It’s almost time for crumbles and custard again!  I’ve been watching the blackberries in the field near our house grow over the summer every time I walked Bungle (Walked?  Who am I kidding?  He drags me around that bloody field), and now they’re finally ripe and ready for picking.   I decided to pick a few last week, but instead of going with a bog-standard apple and blackberry crumble, I did something a little bit different and made these Bramble Bars.  They’re basically a flapjack, blackberry and frangipane sandwich 🙂



Bramble Bars

Ingredients

For the Flapjacks:

  • 250g porridge oats
  • 125g butter
  • 125g dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter

For the Frangipane:

  • 75g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 100g ripe blackberries
  • white chocolate icing
  1. First, make the flapjack layers.  Heat the butter, brown sugar, syrup and peanut butter on a low heat, stirring until combined.  Mix in the porridge oats and then transfer half the mixture to a greased and lined, rectangular baking tin.  Bake for 15 minutes at 180° .
  2. Next make the frangipane.  Cream together the butter and sugar, then stir in the eggs, ground almonds and almond extract.  Spread evenly on top of the first flapjack layer, then bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Roughly mash the blackberries and then spoon over the baked frangipane layer.  Add the final flapjack layer on top, then return to the oven for a further 15 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Once cooled, cut into bars and decorate with piped white chocolate.

Not to blow my own horn or anything, but Sunny was all over these and actually forced me to take pictures of them immediately so he could scoff them.  It’s a nice way of using up those blackberries without resorting to the bog-standard crumble.  😉


Side-note; we discovered that Bungle loves blackberries.  So now instead of getting dragged around the field, I’m being dragged into hedges instead.  Grrrrreat.

Have a lovely week everyone!