At about the age when I started to think I was to cool for the delights for books like 'Kidnapped' I went on a school trip to London, we were let loose for lunchtime outside the National Gallery and somewhere round the corner from St Martin-in-the-Fields we found a Cranks wholefoods and the best piece of carrot cake I've ever had. It was rich, and dark, and moist, light, and fruity, and spicy - altogether lovely, and has lived long in my memory.
Sometime later I found a copy of 'The Cranks Recipe Book' amongst my step mothers cookbooks complete with a carrot cake recipe (and now how I blush over for my teenage self) which I copied into the back of Virginia Woolf's 'To The Lighthouse' which I spent most of that summer dragging around trying to read. I managed to finish it but can't honestly say that I either understood or enjoyed a single page - the only reason I still have it is because of that recipe scribbled (without instructions because I Knew How to Bake Cake so little details like cooking time and temperature, or even sort of flour have been dismissed as being for amateurs). Perhaps I will continue to keep it as a reminder that I once thought I knew everything I would ever need to... (And who knows maybe I did and have just forgotten most of it.)
I do however remember that the cake I baked bore no resemblance to the fabled version from that school trip, Both book and recipe have remained untouched for at least a couple of decades but sometimes you just want carrot cake and I've yet to find a take on it that's just all that it could be so I thought I'd go back to the beginning as it were. The cake that came out of the oven is okay but quite frankly ordinary (but at least I remembered to take it out of the oven in time) - the search continues so if anybody has a recipe that comes out quite dark and rich ideally with sultanas in it I'd be very pleased to have it.
I've got a nice one, rich but not too sweet - it has raisins and also crushed pineapple. It's too long for the comments, but I could email it. It would only be a fair swap, since I have developed a taste for Christmas cake from reading about yours - and now I have to learn to bake my own!ReplyDelete
Lisa May I would love the recipe - I think you've emailed me before so I guess you have my address :) Christmas cake was good and is so rich it lasts an age.Delete
I haven't had carrot cake in years but now you have me yearning for it. I love the story of you using the novel as an emergency recipe notebook - definitely the best possible use for the tiresome To the Lighthouse!ReplyDelete
Claire, I think it probably was the best use for it. A very tiresome book. The only Woolf I've ever enjoyed is 'Orlando'. I'm sure she does all sorts of interesting and important things in her books but Virginia is not much fun to read.Delete
I would love to find a recipe to duplicate the heavy carrot cake that Costa serve...that's my favourite.ReplyDelete
By the way...what was the verdict on the Christmas cake?
Helen - The Christmas cake got a thumbs up but next time I would like to cut down on the cherries - it was very rich and lasted for about 6 weeks of eating...ReplyDelete
Oh I miss Cranks. I used to go to the Covent Garden one when I used to go to the ballet. Surprised it closed because the food was very good.ReplyDelete
I miss that Carrot Cake - and the smell of places like cranks. What I loved about it was that it wasn't slathered in icing - just fruity, spicy, loveliness. I envy you your ballet trips, I've never seen anything at covent garden but hope to some day.Delete
Just discovered your blog, and enjoying it very much! Geraldene Holt's carrot cake comes up very rich and fruitcakey for me, although I used dark muscovado sugar instead of light which could have contributed to it.ReplyDelete