Friday, 22 November 2013

Ceredigion Calling - Carrot, apple & coconut cake with ginger syrup

So there I was all happy and skipping about the kitchen with a working Kenwood, and could I decide what to bake? Reader, I could not.

The thing is that in all the excitement of the big move, alot of other stuff has pretty much fallen by the wayside. I'm not saying I'm feeding the kids fishfingers EVERY night, but, you know, needs must and all that. Pasta and sauce is featuring very regularly.

Whereas before life was just normal, mad, family life busy, now it's KERAZEE busy. 

Blue is 10 at the weekend, and it's the Husband's actual 40th in a couple of weeks' time, and, oh yes, we're moving house.

There is an ever increasing list of jobs that need to get done.

Where the kids will go to school has been my main concern so far. From that flows everything else, subject only to the Husband's requirement to be within 20 minutes of his new place of work, and both of our insistence that we should live as close to the sea as possible.

I have tracked down most of the Mumsnetters based in Ceredigion (there aren't that many) and quizzed them endlessly for any information they have about primary schools in the area we will be living in. 

I have familiarised myself with a number of place names, short on vowels, long on great beaches and made a nuisance of myself on the phone to a number of long suffering headteachers. 

I have engaged in a very interesting debate with a very nice and helpful man at the responsible County Council over the existence or not of an intensive Welsh language course that the children may or may not be able to attend. 

I have worried that once I have found the perfect school, we won't be able to rent a house in the area.

As a result of my efforts, I have a spreadsheet and a series of appointments for a couple of weeks hence, when the children and I will visit these schools. Just call me Mrs Efficient.

When I am not pondering how the kids will handle being in a 'Welsh Medium' school (where the business of the school is conducted in Welsh, all of it, apart from the English lessons. As Blue's initial reaction to the whole enterprise was: "Well, I am NOT learning Welsh", you'll be pleased to hear that I have taken the coward's way out and for now have not explicitly informed either of them that this is likely to be a necessity. It will become only too apparent once we have visited the schools), I am tackling the cupboards.

The cupboards - and (to the Husband's unending irritation) the tops of the cupboards - containing the junk that I we have accumulated over the last nearly 15 years of marriage, and a few before that. In fact, not only am I Mrs Efficient, I have become Mrs Ruthless.  Mrs Ruthlessly-Efficient, perhaps? We have lived in our present house for 8 years, during which time the suggestion, nay the mere thought of getting rid of some of 'the stuff' would almost reduce me to tears. Yet here I am, chucking out the crap without a second thought.

You see for all the upheaval, the change has energised me. Not only are we lucky enough to have the opportunity to go and live in a beautiful part of the world, by the sea, with the security (as much as it is) of the Husband's job being in the same place, but the idea of starting afresh gives me a sense of purpose. Not that I won't miss our friends and the life we have here terribly. We are very blessed with the village where we are at the moment - we have some true friends, and life has been good to us while we've lived here. But ultimately, I think we're both slightly nomadic, and there is something appealing about putting down new roots somewhere else. I moved a number of times as a child, and then shuttled from Leeds to Newcastle, to France and back, then to York, to London, to Wiltshire and then to Hampshire, where we have lived in 3 different houses. I remember hitting the point 3 years back when I only had one address to put on any of those official forms where you have to state all the addresses you've lived in for the past however many years. I felt a little cheated...

So yes, where, before, the idea of sorting through the cupboards, endowing the charity shop with most of my worldy goods and (gasp!) giving away most of my back copies of the Good Food magazine (well, it's all online now, isn't it) to a good friend (although not the classic September 2009 issue), would have been something I would never have entertained in a million years, now, I'm relishing it. I actually  think the Husband is a little concerned - after I posted on Facebook a picture of my stash of currently empty jam jars* and offered them up to anyone who wanted them, I caught him eyeing me nervously, as if I wasn't actually his wife at all, but some strange alien being in possession of his wife's body. I still haven't made it to the "unalbumed photographs" cupboard - I need a couple of days and a bottle of gin for that one - but, you know, I'm making progress.

One of my other projects is eating up the produce in the freezers and all the tins of stuff that I have hoarded away in case of a nuclear winter. Otherwise, I will cry when we don't take it with us.

All the half used jars of this and that. We won't be moving till February, but I reckon I can reduce our foodbills quite significantly by actually feeding us as much as possible out of the cupboards. OK, so I guess as time goes by, the idea of chick pea and sprinkles soup may pall, but I bet I can get them to eat it at least once.

Which brings me (at last! I hear you cry) to the cake. A carrot cake, but I didn't have enough carrot, so some apple went in it. Mindful of my need to use up stuff in the kitchen, I added some dessicated coconut to the original recipe, and some syrup from a jar of opened stem ginger to flavour the syrup that I poured over the cake at the end. The original recipe is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's in River Cottage Everyday, but this is my version.

Carrot, apple & coconut cake - with ginger syrup

3 large eggs
150g caster sugar
just over 250ml sunflower oil
300g self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g dessicated coconut
Approximately 300g carrots, peeled and grated
1 large-ish apple (approx 50g) grated
100g golden syrup
50g syrup from a jar of opened stem ginger

Lightly grease a 23cm cake tin (loose bottomed if possible) and line the base. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

In your newly repaired, and isn't it wonderful, mixer (or using a hand held electric whisker thing or other contraption - including perhaps a wooden spoon) beat together the eggs and the sugar till light, foamy and slightly thickened

Pour in the oil and carry on beating for a couple of minutes

Sift together the flour, salt and bicarb and fold this into the mixture along with the coconut.

Fold in the grated carrot and apple, then scrape everything into the prepared tin and bake for around 50 minutes till a skewer comes out clean.

Stand the tin on a wire rack over a plate, and then gently heat up the 2 syrups in a pan. Use a skewer to make holes all over the top of the cake, and slowly pour the hot syrup over it, allowing the syrup to soak into the cake.

Leave to cool.


This is lovely while still warm as a pud, with creme fraiche, but has also been going down a storm in the lunch boxes this week.

*don't worry, there are still plenty of full jam jars that will be coming with us...


  1. Replies
    1. We relocated several times with husband's job in UK and abroad and once you've moved once, keep that list and you will use it again next time! It's hugely stressful and exciting at the same time isn't it?! And I remember the first time having to totally declutter the whole house and it felt GREAT to be clear of clutter! Looking forward to reading your adventures. Elinor x

  2. Golly you've been busy, but glad to see not too busy to make cake! Know what you mean about that buzz of excitement and energy you can get from starting afresh. I've even begun thinking another posting mightn't be so bad....keeping that to myself for now though! x

  3. the cake sounds amazing... Good luck with everything. In my experience children adapt faster than any of us with a big move.... Hope all goes well! :)


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