Well, it's my happy birthday today and I'm STILL waiting for my cake (which I suspect isn't going to materialise, Marty!). Anyhow, I have already received the best gift I could possibly imagine this year, and with that I have some breaking news about the imminent arrival of baby pie!
Yes, friendly cottage is going to come alive with all things baby in early March next year (oh my wallpaper!). I am seven months pregnant now and thankfully all has gone really well. I have been so lucky to have flown it so far, especially as I've had such a nutty work schedule. I by now, have a very diligently trained food styling assistant! So we (baby pie and I) are planning on taking things a little easier from now on with lovely yoga and swimming classes booked in the New Year, lots of nesting to do and the exciting prospect of a baby room to decorate.
So anyhow, there's my bun in the oven news. I'm STILL waiting for my birthday cake, so in the meantime, here's a cake-to-self recipe for my mini carrot cakes. Pink for a girl or should it be blue for a boy????
MINI CARROT CAKES WITH ORANGE CREAM CHEESE TOPPING
100g walnut halves
400g soft light brown sugar
450g plain flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp mixed spice
325ml vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
450g carrots (about 4 medium), peeled and finely grated
1 tbsp grated ginger
zest of 1 large orange
200g cream cheese
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
300g icing sugar
zest of 1 large orange
Preheat the oven to 180C (360 F / Gas Mark 4). Line two 12 hole muffin tins with muffin paper cases.
Toast the walnuts in the oven for about 10 minutes to release their flavour. Remove and finely chop.
In the meantime, stir the sugar, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mixed spice and salt together in a large bowl, leaving a well in the centre.
Measure the vegetable oil and buttermilk into a large jug and add the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat together until combined and pour into the dry ingredients. Add the grated carrots, ginger, orange zest and chopped walnuts and stir everything together until well mixed.
Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, swapping the trays around on the shelves half way through. The muffins should be risen, deep golden in colour and cooked through. Leave to cool on a wire rack
Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Beat the cream cheese and butter in a food mixer for a few minutes until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides, sift in the icing sugar, add the orange zest and then gently beat again to give a smooth, thick paste. Refrigerate until ready to use to firm up a little. Pipe or spread the icing onto each cooled carrot cake before devouring!