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.