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Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting

The sun is beginning to shine, we can now entertain people (in the garden!), and to celebrate here’s a simple recipe that many will love

Preparation time

25-30 mins

Cooking time 35-40 minutes


Serves 12

For the Cake
3Large Eggs
250gSelf-raising flour (sifted)
200gSoft brown sugar (light, dark or muscovado)
225mlSunflower or vegetable oil
3/4 tspBicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tspGround cinnamon
1/2 tspGround mixed spice
Alittle waterTo soak the raisins
For the cream cheese frosting:-
100gButter (at room temperature)
100gIcing sugar
200gCream cheese
1/4 tspVanilla extract
Optional for decorating:-
Sugar carrots

Make the cake:-

Step 1
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius / 160 degrees celsius fan

Line 2 x 20cm diameter cake tins with greaseproof paper or baking liners

Place the raisins in a bowl and soak in enough water to cover

Peel and coarsely grate the carrots  

Step 2
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the oil and brown sugar together until combined

Step 3
Whisk in the eggs until combined – the mixture will take on a glossy appearance

Step 4
Fold in the sifted self-raising flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and mixed spice

Step 4
Split the mixture between the two cake tins and spread evenly

Step 5
Bake for 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean

Remove cakes from the oven and leave in their tins for 10 minutes

Remove cakes from the tins and place on a wire rack to cool completely before decorating

Make the frosting:- 

Step 1
Cut the butter into cubes and beat with a wooden spoon until soft

Step 2
Add the icing sugar to the butter and beat until combined 

Step 3
Add the cream cheese, a spoonful at a time, and beat until combined

Prepare to serve:-

Tip: If the cakes have risen to a dome whilst baking and you prefer a flat top, take a knife and slice horizontally just beneath each dome and remove. 

Place one of the cakes on a dish and spread half the frosting evenly across the surface

Place the other cake on top and spread the remaining frosting over the surface

Decorate with sugar carrots, if desired

Macaroni Cheese & Smoky Bacon

Preparation time
less than 30 mins
Cooking time
30 mins to 1 hour
Serves 6-8
100gButter – plus extra for greasing
100gPlain Flour
1 Heaped tspDijon mustard
1.2 LitresWhole milk
5 tbspDouble cream
1Bay Leaf
400gGrated mature Cheddar
20 turnsBlack peppermill
8 RaspsFreshly grated nutmeg
500gDried macaroni
100gSmoked bacon lardons or smoked pancetta cubes
60gWhite breadcrumbs
50gParmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp (per 600ml water)  Salt

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6 and grease a 35x20cm/14x8in ovenproof dish. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the plain flour and cook for a minute. 

Step 2

Add the mustard, then take the pan off the heat and gradually whisk in the milk and cream.

Step 3

Add the bay leaf, put the pan back on the heat and cook the sauce, stirring constantly, until it boils and is thick and bubbling.

Step 4

Take the pan off the heat again, remove the bay leaf and add the Cheddar, then keep stirring until the cheese has melted. Season with black pepper and nutmeg.

Step 5

Boil the macaroni in a large pan of salted boiling water (with a ratio of 1 teaspoon of salt per 600ml of water) for about 10 minutes or until al dente, then drain well.

Step 6

Fry the bacon in a frying pan until crisp. Stir into the macaroni cheese and pour the mixture into the ovenproof dish.

Step 7

Mix the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan and scatter them over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.

Your Winter Recipe: Beef & Vegetable Casserole

Beef & Vegetable Casserole

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 3 hrs – 3 hrs and 50 mins
Serves: 5
Requires: large capacity flameproof casserole dish

2 celery sticks, thickly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 big carrots, halved lengthways then chunkily sliced
5 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs, 1 whole and 1 with leaves picked
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 beef stock cubes, crumbled
850g stewing beef (featherblade or brisket works nicely) cut into nice large chunks
600ml water

Make the most of winter with this warming beef and vegetable casserole.



Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and put the kettle on.


Gently heat the vegetable oil & butter in the flameproof casserole dish, then add the prepared onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves and whole thyme sprig. 


Soften for 10 mins on a low gas, then stir in the plain flour until it doesn’t look dusty anymore, followed by the tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce and crumbled beef stock cubes.


Gradually stir in the hot water, then add the stewing beef and bring to a gentle simmer.


Cover and put in the oven for 2hrs 30 mins, then uncover and cook for 30 minutes to one hour or more, until the meat is really tender and the sauce is thickened.


Garnish with the picked leaves of the remaining thyme sprig.

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