I love the ritual of afternoon tea. Whether it's from my home office or on the road, I look forward to the soothing warmth and comfort of a mid-day brew. There is something sacred about the process too. In that space of quiet where life is suspended for just a moment - watching, waiting, breathing in the fragrances. There is a calming reassurance to it all.
I often accompany my warming cup of goodness with a little touch of sweet. Usually a wedge of dark chocolate in the form of a cluster but sometimes not. Today, something a little different.
I just happened to be perusing one of my favourite food blogs, With A Glass where I happened upon a beautiful and utterly moist looking Carrot Cake I've only attempted carrot cake from scratch once before but honest to goodness, it took me the better part of an afternoon. This little beauty took me about 15 minutes to pull together - no more complicated than a muffin recipe - and I was thrilled with the result. If you haven't checked out Sissi's blog yet, I highly recommend that you do. She has the uncanny ability to deliver outstanding flavour without all the fuss. I love her unpretentious style and have tried many of her delicious recipes without disappointment.
Sissi's recipe does not require any fixing, I modified it mostly to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand.
Afternoon Tea Carrot Cake
(Adapted from With a Glass' Carrot Cake ).
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, or nut of choice (my husband's already spoken for)
1/3 cup coarse sugar, I used demerara
1/4 cup pitted and chopped medjool dates
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 + 1/2 cups grated carrots
1/4 cup buttermilk
4 Tbsp melted butter or olive oil, I used butter
1 Tbsp orange zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
For the crunchy topping: 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 Tbsp coarse grain sugar, a few pieces of grated carrot and scattered nuts
If you haven't tried baking with spelt flour, I recommend the experiment. Spelt is a whole grain with gorgeous, silky properties that work especially well in loaves, muffins and cakes.
Although spelt contains gluten, many people who have difficulty digesting wheat, find it easier to tolerate.
Heat oven to 375 F.
In a large bowl, combine: spelt flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, walnuts, sugar, dates.
Add carrots to dry mixture, stirring to combine.
In a separate, smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, butter, orange zest and vanilla.
Add wet ingredients to dry, mixing only until combined.
Pour batter into a loaf pan that has been sprayed lightly with olive or canola oil.
For the crunchy topping, combine sugar and cinnamon in a pinch bowl. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture over the top of the carrot cake. Add a line of carrot shavings if desired and a few nuts here and there.
Bake carrot cake in oven (no higher than middle rack) for approximately 40 minutes. Turn oven off and allow cake to sit in the oven for another 5 minutes or so.
Remove carrot cake from oven and test readiness with a cake tester inserted in the center. Tester should come out relatively clean, without raw batter.
You can add additional fresh carrot pieces at this stage for presentation if you like. It would also make a lovely hostess gift!
Allow cake to cool somewhat before slicing and devouring - (I mean eating in a fully civilized manner!).
This cake tastes even better after it has sat out at room temperature for an hour.... I know, as if, but you'll enjoy the second piece later.
This post is dedicated to my five beautiful sisters, scattered all across the country, whom I often think of while preparing and sipping my afternoon tea...