Carrot and olive oil cake

Carrot and olive oil cake

carrot and olive oil cake

By using extra virgin olive oil, this carrot cake had a great taste, was seriously moist and one of the nicest carrot cakes I’ve ever eaten. I’m a bit concerned about the amount of sugar in the cake itself as 500g seems a lot and so next time I might try using less sugar – possibly 350g.

I’ve just realised that I never say anything about heating the oven to 180ºC. When I bake cakes, I use the wood-fired oven after making pizzas for lunch so it’s more a case of waiting for the temperature to drop from over 350ºC to around 200ºC. Normally this takes about four hours or so and then the temperature will remain constant.

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
500g brown sugar
250g self-raising flour
4 large eggs or 5 medium eggs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
125g walnuts, coarsely chopped
500g carrots, coarsely grated

125g salted butter
250g light cream cheese
250g icing sugar
grated zest of 2 large oranges

Line a deep-sided roasting tin with baking parchment. The size of the tin I used was 32cm x 22cm.

In a large bowl beat together the olive oil, sugar and eggs. Slowly add in the flour, salt and cinnamon and mix well. Add the grated carrot and walnuts and give the mixture a good stir.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Meanwhile make the icing. Cream the butter in a bowl and then add all the other ingredients. Mix well and then keep in the fridge until needed.

Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack for ten minutes before removing from the tin. Leave to cool completely and then spread over the icing.





Cherry Clafoutis

Cherry clafoutis

cherry clafoutisCherry clafoutis is a traditional French cake from the Limousin region of France. The classic recipe is made with a pancake or flan batter. You can either use self-raising flour or plain flour and baking powder. Traditionally, black cherries are used in the clafoutis but you can also make it with most other fruits. It also works well with red cherries, plums, pears or soft summer fruits (e.g. raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc.).

The word clafoutis comes from the Occitan verb clafir which means to fill.  If fruit other than cherries are used then the clafoutis becomes a flaugnarde. Flaugnarde comes from the Occitan word flaunhard which means “soft” or “downy”. In the traditional French dish, the cherry stones are not removed as they contain an element called amygdalin which is found in almonds and they therefore add an almond flavour to the cake. It is your choice entirely whether you leave the stones in or not. Personally I prefer to take them out.

The cherries are softened for 5 minutes in the oven before the batter is poured over and the cake is baked.

It would also to be possible to cook this cake on the stove if you don’t have an oven. For a gluten-free version, see this gluten-free pear cake.

300ml milk
3 eggs
60g plain flour + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder OR 60g self-raising flour
60g sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

300 cherries, pitted
1 tablespoon sugar
icing sugar for dusting the cake with
butter or oil for greasing the cake tin

Heat the oven to 180ºC – 200ºC.
Beat the eggs with a whisk. Beat in the milk and then add the flour (and baking powder if using), sugar and vanilla extract and mix well.

Grease a cake tin and then arrange the cherries on the bottom of the tin. Cook the cherries in the oven for 5 minutes to soften.

Pour over the batter mix and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Check the cake after 15 minutes and turn the tin through 180º so that it cooks evenly.

Take out of the oven once the cake has cooked and leave to cool slightly. Dust the top with icing sugar. The cake is best served warm with cream if you like.


Gluten-free pear cake

Gluten-free pear cake


Gluten-free pear cake

This gluten-free pear cake uses ground almonds instead of flour. The cake is cooked on the top of the stove so is ideal if you don’t have an oven. I wanted to try baking a cake in a frying pan so that we wouldn’t have to light the bread oven to make something sweet. I looked on Internet and found the idea for a recipe on clevercook. The cake had the added advantage of being completely gluten-free and that way I could use our own almonds instead of flour.

My idea was to follow the principle of a tarte tatin, using the pears we had picked last winter, and pour over the batter mixture. The pears are a winter variety and so are quite robust. The pears had been halved before freezing so I just cut them into smaller pieces.

I heated them through in a deep-sided frying pan until soft and the juice had evaporated.

I then lined the deep frying pan with greaseproof paper, brushed it with sunflower oil and sprinkled it with brown sugar. I put the pear pieces on top and poured over the batter.

I covered the pan and cooked over a low heat for about 20 minutes. Once it had cooked all the way through, I turned it out upside down onto a cooling rack. If you weren’t pouring the batter over fruit and wanted to turn the cake while it was cooking, you could turn the cake after 10 minutes so that it cooked evenly on both sides.


Pear cake in a frying pan

Here is the recipe for the cake batter:

20g butter
3 eggs
90g brown sugar
160g ground almonds
1 teaspoon cornflour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons orange juice
grated rind of an orange

In a food processor, blitz the butter and then add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in all the dry ingredients and blitz again. Add the orange juice and rind and blitz for a final time.

Pear tarte tatin

Gluten-free pear cake


Courgette, Lemon and Almond Cake

Courgette, Lemon and Almond Cake
Courgette, Lemon and Almond Cake

Courgette, Lemon and Almond Cake

This is a delicious way to use some of the prolific courgettes that we’ve got growing at the moment.

200g almonds, skinned, ground and toasted in a frying pan
300g grated courgette
240g plain flour
350g sugar
225m olive oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons white sugar
125g icing sugar

Beat the oil and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each one. Beat in the vanilla and almond extract.

Gently stir in the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, ginger, bicarbonate of soda, nutmeg, cinnamon). Pour into an oiled and lined bread time.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Cool on a baking rack.

Mix the frosting ingredients together and drizzle over the cake. Leave the cake to cool completely.

Baking cakes in a wood-fired oven

Baking cakes and bread in a wood-fired oven can be a bit difficult: things tend to cook too quickly on the outside while remaining undercooked or raw inside. 

To get round this, it is a good idea to cover the cake or bread with foil for most of its cooking time. It is best to use a cake tin with high sides so that the cake mixture does not stick on the foil when it rises.

Through a process of trial and error, I have found that if a cake needs to be baked for 40-45 minutes, then what works best is to cover it with foil and bake it for 15 minutes. Have a look and if it seems to be cooking too quickly or too slowly, move it forwards or backwards in the oven. Turn it 180º and cover it again for another 15 minutes before having another look

Turn again through 180º and remove the foil. Let it cook for a further 5 minutes before checking. If it seems to be browning too quickly, replace the foil otherwise leave uncovered for another 5 minutes.

Test the cake and if it is still not done, put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

A wood-fired oven retains the heat a lot better than a conventional oven so there doesn’t seem to be the same problem of opening the oven door and letting the heat out.

Fudgy brownies

no butter chocolate brownies

Chocolate brownies

This is another recipe that doesn’t use butter. I only had a rectangular tin but next time I would make it in a smaller square tin so that it was a bit thicker.

3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 boiling water
2 large eggs
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/3 cups plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

Oil and flour a square baking tin.

In a mixing boil, combine the cocoa and baking powder and stir in 1/3 cup oil. Add the boiling water and mix well. Whisk in the sugar, eggs and another 1/3 cup of oil.

Stir in the flour, vanilla extract and salt and mix well.

Pour into the baking tin and bake in the oven (180ºC) for 35-40 minutes.

Butter-free carrot cake

carrot-cakeContinuing with my quest to find new recipes that don’t use butter that we can bake in our bread oven, the other day we baked a carrot cake. It was delicious. Here is the recipe.

175g soft brown sugar
175ml sunflower oil
175g self-raising flour
3 large eggs
150g coarsely grated carrots
100g raisins
1 large orange, grated zest and juice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Oil and line a cake tin.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and oil together in a mixing bowl.

Stir in the sultanas, carrot, orange zest and orange juice and then mix in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon.

Bake in an over (180ºC) for 40-45 minutes until cooked in the over. Again,if you are cooking this in a wood-fired oven, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Turn 180º and bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove the foil and check after 5 minutes. If the top looks as though it will get too brown, replace the foil and cook for a further 5 minutes. Test and put back for another 5 minutes if necessary.

Flapjacks / granola bars

flapjacksThis is our second attempt at making these bars and the second batch worked out a lot better: they were a lot moister and had a lovely fruity flavour. Basically you can adapt the recipe according to what you’ve got to hand so we added some peach leather, cut into pieces.

450g rolled oats
300g dried figs, cut into pieces
150g walnuts
150g almonds
125g cranberries
3 eggs, beaten
100ml honey
1/2 small glass sweet sherry
Splash sunflower oil
3 eggs, beaten
3 teaspoons vanilla essence
Grated zest and juice of 3 oranges

Combine all the ingredients and press into an oiled tin.

Bake in a hot oven (180ºC) for 20-25 minutes.

As we were baking them in the wood-fired oven, I covered them with foil and baked for 10 minutes, turned round after another 10 minutes and then baked uncovered for 5 or so minutes.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes and then cut into pieces and leave to cool completely.

Courgette cake

Courgette cake

When the courgettes are in full season, this is a good cake to make. It seemed a bit stiff when I made it but it came out OK in the end. We baked it in the outside wood oven. The fabulous thing about it is that we can use our courgettes, our eggs and our walnuts. You can’t get much better than that.

3 medium eggs
240 ml corn oil
480 g brown sugar
720 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
480 g courgettes, coarsely grated
2 tsp vanilla essence
50 g chopped walnuts

Cake mixture

Heat the oven to 180ºC.
Beat the eggs and oil together in a bowl.
Add the sugar and whisk until creamy and frothy
Fold in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Pour into a greased and lined tin.
Bake for 1 hour until cooked in the middle.

As I was cooking it in the wood oven, I covered it with foil and turned it round 180º after 20 minutes and cooked it for a further 20 minutes. I left the foil off for about 10 minutes and then put it back on towards the end once it had browned.

Courgette cake with cream

Orange butter-free cake


The hens have gone into overlay and so I thought it would be a good idea to make a cake to use up some of the eggs I’ve been amassing. This orange butter-free cake uses oil rather than butter – much like a carrot cake. I used the wood-fired oven which is always a bit tricky but was able to get the temperature more or less constant at about 190ºC-200ºC.

If you are using a wood-fired oven, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then turn through 180º and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove the foil, turn again and bake for 5 minutes and then bake for a further 5 minutes with or without the foil depending on the colour. Test with a metal skewer to check that it is cooked all the way through.

If you are using a standard oven,bake for 20 minutes and then turn through 180º before baking for another 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave for a final 5 minutes. Test with a skewer.

Leave in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a baking rack.

4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (almond oil, sunflower oil, etc.)
2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice
zest from 1 or 2 oranges
2 large oranges, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
3 tablespoons orange marmalade (optional)

Heat the oven to 180ºC.

To prepare the tin, brush with a mild oil (almond, sunflower, etc.) and then sprinkle over some brown sugar and shake to completely coat the bottom and sides of the tin. Arrange the orange slices on the bottom of the tin so that they overlap slightly.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy.

Gradually beat in the oil.

Stir in the flour and salt and then mix in the orange juice, marmalade and vanilla extract.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake in an over at around 180ºC for 40 minutes or until cooked.