Carrot cake

carrot cake
Spring is supposedly soon upon us and, although the hawthorn and wild cherry seem on the brink of coming into blossom, I think there is still some way to go. This week has rained and poured and, well, more rain (at one point there were even a few out-of-place flurries of snow) until the ground was sodden and puddles abound. I feel like I spent the most of the week staring at the rhythmic puttering of rain drops on the window sill, watching them slowly form into miniature streams running down the pane.

The last withered echinaceas
The last withered echinaceas
I guess because although it seems like months of cold and wet weather, most of it has only been a kind of cold, miserable drizzle with the little actually rain. So for all this I think it did the garden good, with everything feeling decidedly more verdant and refreshed.
A first attempt at 'chiaroscuro' photography
A first attempt at 'chiaroscuro' photography
For the photography, I did some usual shots and then, for the overhead photo I tried 'chiaroscuro' style. Basically this (I am told) involves using a much darker shot with a few highlights to give emphasis on things. I was trying to emulate the style of photographs on Desserts for Breakfast, particularly the over-head shots, although in comparison they seem much... lighter. I quite like the shot but I think I need to angle the light better, which is surprisingly difficult to do with the lack of it, but it was fun giving it a go (and also trying to balance a black sheet and a reflector at the same time as holding the tripod steady).
Rain droplets on a leek
Rain droplets on a leek
So, not quite ready to open-armedly welcome spring, and ice creams and fruit tarts and chilled soups, I decided to stick with a comforting and ever so slightly stodgy cake. Unlike a traditional carrot cake this is much lighter and without a cream cheese frosting, taking inspiration from Scandinavian style spice cakes. Serve it warm with a dollop of crème fraiche as a dessert or have it cold as a cake.
Rain droplets on a leek

Carrot cake

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
50g almonds
150 ml vegetable oil
150g sugar
3 eggs, beaten
75g golden raisins
zest orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g ground almonds
150g self-raising flour
Chopped nuts for sprinkling (optional)

Grease and line a 9 inch cake tin and preheat the oven to 180C/355F

Roughly chop the almonds and put in a pan; with a pestle and mortar crush the caraway seeds  and also add to the pan. Toast the almonds and caraway seeds until they begin to sizzle and smell nutty and toasted; set aside. In a bowl mix together the oil, sugar, eggs, raisins, zest, vanilla, ground almonds and almonds and caraway then sift in the flour and mix until all combined. Pour the batter into the prepated tin and sprinkle over the nuts. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

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