Special Spiced Carrot Cake

Cheshire Food Blog

For most things applies the saying “You can’t pleased everyone”. I think there is an exception – do you know anyone who doesn’t like carrot cake?! I mean the moist, nice carrot cake with cream cheese icing……mmmmmmmmm…

A while ago I have discovered a great recipe for a spiced carrot cake. Since then, I was experimenting and adding ingredients I like, replacing the ones I like less (I’m not a big fan of nutmeg for example)…

Cheshire Food Blog

The result is my Special Spiced Carrot Cake – it’s moist, spicy and goes perfectly with Cream Cheese icing (smooth and creamy, not sugary and grainy as we know it from many cafes and shops). Here is my tuned recipe:

Ingredients: 

For the cake (for 20cm / 8″ cake)

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp dark cocoa powder (unsweetend)
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (can be olive oil)
  • 4 eggs (large)
  • 3 cups peeled and grated carrots (I usually use 6-7 medium sized carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the icing:

  • 500g of full fat soft cheese
  • 250g of unsalted butter
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 170°. Line the bottom of a 20cm round cake tin with baking paper and grease it (I always grease my cake tins with butter and put a little of flour in it, then shake it to cover both bottom and sides).
  2. Sieve flour, soda, baking powder, all spices, cocoa and pepper into a large bowl, add sugar and salt. Whisk to combine all dry ingredients.
  3. Add eggs and oil, stir in until all ingredients are combined and you can see any flour patches. Add carrots and chopped walnuts to the mixture.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared and greased cake tin and place into preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour. (The time may vary, depends on your oven, I’ve baked the same cake for hour and a half ones). Before taking out, test with a wooden skewer / stick inserted in the center of the cake, when it comes out clean, the cake is done. When batter stuck to the stick, lower the heat and continue baking. Test frequently.
  5. Transfer cake to a cooling rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Then remove from the tin and let cool completely.
  6. In the meantime, prepare the icing. Beat soft cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. (It’s better when these are in room temperature). Add icing sugar and mix until smooth.
  7. Once cake is completely cooled, cut twice to create 3 layers. Put the bottom layer on a plate or cake mat, spread with icing. Cover with the second layer, again spread with icing and top with the last layer of cake. Cover the top and sides of cake with remaining icing. (when it’s a special occassion I leave some icing and decorate the cake. It’s also nice to press chopped walnuts on the sides of the cake.

Place in the fridge and let the icing set a bit, for about an hour. You can serve immediately, but I think carrot cake is always better on the second day!

Enjoy!

 

Back to childhood with Stokes Ketchup

Cheshire Food Blog

That moment when you taste something and it sends you back to your childhood, when everything seemed to taste (or maybe really tasted) better than it does now…

I’ve had this amazing moment last weekend, when I tried Stokes Ketchup for the very first time.

OH MY GOD!

Just one little taste catapulted me back to the times, when things tasted as they should taste! When ketchup (or tomato sauce, if you like), tasted like tomatoes.

When I was a kid, we used to buy some kind of a German ketchup. Often I remembered the taste and was so desperate, when despite trying different brands, I only got some sweet red sauce that called itself tomato sauce, but probably has seen its first tomato in my fridge through its glass packaging…

In Stokes Ketchup, you can really taste the tomatoes. The genuine taste I know from my childhood! I’m converted! Heinz has no more a place in my kitchen.

Thank you Stokes for bringing me back to my childhood. It feels so good to find a quality, honest product like yours nowadays.

And now…….I’m going to stock up! Tempted to try their Mayo…oh, they have a Cranberry Sauce as well!

Cheshire Food Blog

* Independent review, I haven’t received any samples or wasn’t endorsed in any way.

The Bear’s Head, Brereton

Cheshire Food Blog

Never Too Much Food Rating: 7.5 / 10

We’ve moved in Cheshire a few months ago and still having a lot of pubs and restaurants to explore here. Tonight we tried The Bear’s Head in Brereton, Cheshire. It’s just a couple of miles away from us in Holmes Chapel, so an ideal location for a nice Sunday dinner.

The Bear’s Head is a part of the Vintage Inn chain. Although I prefer independent pubs, we thought we would give it try…and we were pleasantly surprised.

The pub looks great from the outside, traditional English pub, probably refurbished lately. The interior is very cosy. Just what you would expect from a classic old English pub. We were seated and served drinks with no waiting at all.

We ordered Sourdough breads with butter to share instead of starters. I just love good sourdough bread and as I wrote in one of my previous posts, it’s so hard to find a good bread in the UK. This one was really nice and tasty! From that moment I was looking forward to the main even more.

Cheshire Food Blog

As a main I had beer-battered halloumi with sweet potato fries and my partner chose a pub classic, the beer-battered cod with chips and mushy peas, his favourite 🙂

The food was great. Nice size portions, comforting food, perfect for a relaxed Sunday night dinner. I would never think about battering the halloumi cheese, but in Czech we bread and deep-fry Edam cheese (one of childhood favourites), so I was tempted to try it. It was perfect, not too greasy, very tasty!

Cheshire Food Blog

My boyfriends fish&chips looked huge and apparently it was nice as well.

Cheshire Food Blog

I’m not really a dessert person, but we decided to try the Cookie dough with ice cream. It was a very nice finish of the dinner.

Cheshire Food Blog

The staff was friendly and helpful, the service was fast.

I would recommend this place. Higher end food for a chain pub standard. Very pleasant atmosphere, good service. We’ll definitely come again.

Restaurant details:

The Bear’s Head, Newcastle Road South, Brereton, Sandbach, Cheshire, CW11 1RS

Restaurant’s website

 

The Christmas Planning

Cheshire Food Blog

Christmas is knocking on the door again! I can’t believe it’s another year coming to an end, time passes so so fast and it’s probably the only thing I find hard to accept… I just wish the life stopped for a moment…

Anyway, it’s just about time to start planning my “Christmas shopping”. No, not for Christmas gifts, but for Christmas baking! I haven’t bought one single present yet, but there’s still time for it…ehm…isn’t it… 🙂

In the Czech Republic we bake traditional Christmas biscuits, vanilla rolls, cream filled walnut-shaped biscuits, sandwich biscuits filled with jam,…3 weeks before Christmas my mums kitchen always smells of vanilla, nuts, cinammon, cloves… This year we are staying in the UK for Christmas, but I will stick to the tradition and bake all these biscuits as well. But next week, I’m starting with my very first Christmas cake!

When do you usually start planning for Christmas? Are you baking your own Christmas cake or do you buy one?

The ‘Strange’ English Bread

Cheshire Food Blog

When I came to the UK for the first time, I loved the fluffy toast breads and the “crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside” Farmhouse breads. But I was here just for a year, knowing I will have to go back to finish my studies and when you are abroad, realising the “new & different” is only for a limited time, you enjoy it more.

I was excited about everything, everything seemed to be better. But now I’ve been here 2 more years, not sure if I’ll ever get a chance to move back home to the Czech Republic…and I’ve started missing all the old good stuff I was used to all my life.

In Czech we have a saying “Everywhere’s good, home’s the best” and first now I really get what’s meant with that. Sometimes I miss home so much I tend to dismiss everything here in the UK…but when it comes to bread, is it me or is the bread really kind of…..politely said…..poor!

I’m a bread lover. I don’t care that white bread is not healthy, I can’t give up on it. Quality olive oil, pinch of salt, fresh basil…or garlic….a bread…one of the best foods in the world.

But….you go to Italy, amazing bread, France, amazing bread, Germany, amazing bread, Czech, amazing bread…wonderful little bakeries, bakery shops, with all kind of bread you can imagine. The unforgettable smell of sourdough, you know the unique yeasty smell…

Cheshire Food Blog

And then you are in the UK.

The supermarket-bought toast bread literally stinks to me… The fluffy buns is like eating cotton – dry and hard to swallow. Then you go to this little bakery in our village who has Hovis sign all over the house, hoping you get a nice fresh bread with crust and firm structure inside…but NO. It’s the same old foam that rips every time you try to spread proper butter on it!

But it just makes me wonder why is it like this? Would Britons eat a different bread? Do they really prefer this fluffy thing? Let me know what you think!

* I’ll be adding some bread recipes soon, you can look forward to no-knead bread or a proper sourdough with my own starter (that is sleeping in the fridge at the moment).