I’m the sort of person who’s always better motivated with a carrot than a stick.
(The orange post it notes flapping on the perimeter of my lap top are testament to that. Recent example; Australian or UK residents for tax purposes? Find answer = get haircut). Two tedious hours of life administration later, and a cleaving of my husband’s and my tax residencies mean I’m rewarded with an appointment for a trim next week).
When a bag of organic carrots (care of Sainsbury’s) arrived on my doorstep, my thoughts ploddingly shuffled to two rather predictable places.
The first; carrot cake. An age old reward for any kind of exertion, either physical or mental. This is a trojan horse of a pudding;it’s easy to kid yourself that it’s good for you, because of the way the sugar, oil and cream cheese is bulked out with sweet orange threads of beta carotene. But really, it’s not a loaf, it’s not a bread. It’s cake. The sugar will do that to you.
When it comes to carrot cakes I have two favourite versions; the first a carrot, oat and almond cake, inspired by War Horse.
The next place my brain sidled to was my staple savoury side of carrots batons, dusted with cumin, ground ginger and coriander seed, slow roasted. I like to serve these with a yoghurt dressing, chilli sauce and some toasted nuts and seeds for extra crunch and as a side for roast meats or barbecued chicken.
What I really needed was a new flexible staple; something to stash in the freezer, that could adapt to brunch with friends and a side for a quick supper.
Introducing; savoury carrot cake. Softer than a corn bread, not as sweet as a carrot cake, all the joy comes from the vegetable itself. The best of both worlds.
It’s a revelation. The spice combination of cumin, coriander, ginger and chilli plays up the complexity in good quality carrots, while the yoghurt topping mimics the freshness of a cream cheese frosting. It’s grand with some green leaves and fresh mint as a solid side dish for barbecued chicken or lamb. Though you could also tumble some roasted peppers and tomatoes over the top for a heartier Meatless Monday dinner.
But my favourite way to eat it is with a soft centred egg spooling its yolk over the top of a warm slice. It’s a fantastic brunch dish for a group with the added benefit that it can be easily prepared ahead of time. Just make a double mixture of the cake, wrap the second in plastic wrap and freeze it for emergencies. Defrost it the night before you want to serve and heat slices gently in a low oven or in a toasted sandwich press.
Make a batch of soft centred eggs in bulk by placing older eggs in a saucepan full of boiling water with a teaspoon of bi carb soda. Boil for five minutes, plunge into cold water and then gently shell, taking care not to plunder the yolks. To reheat them just submerge for a minute in warm water.
I serve the slices of savoury carrot cake with a tablespoon of greek yogurt, a splash of piquant chilli sauce and some seeds. Put a tangle of leaves and mint on the side. Then let folks break the yolks themselves and let the conversation flow.
In the end it’s the chuffed look on people’s faces while they ponder what they’re eating, before concluding they should simply stick this carrot concoction in the category of just plain good that proves the greatest reward of all for thinking outside the box.
Savoury Organic Carrot Cake
23 cm springform pan. Baking paper. 1 grater. 1 whisk.
125 ml extra virgin olive oil
125 ml vegetable oil
3 organic eggs
2 cups organic carrots (about 4 medium carrots) peeled and grated
1.25 cups self raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cayenne pepper/chilli powder
1 egg per person. 1 tbsp greek yogurt per person. 1 tsp piquant chilli sauce per person. 1 handful of green leaves per person. 3 mint leaves per person. 1 tsp of nuts and seeds per person.
1. Preheat oven to 180 C/350F. Grease and line a 23 cm springform pan.
2. Take a mixing bowl and whisk the eggs together.
8 ) Serve slices warm or cold, with a yoghurt dressing and what ever accompaniments take your fancy.
For other recipes developed for the Sainsburys Organic range, see the potato, hummous and onion gratin.