January Baking Challenge: Carrot Cake

So it seems that me and my baker friends from GCBS Season 1 are now in a co-dependent relationship where we can’t stop competitively baking with each other. We decided to set ourselves a challenge a month and this month we chose carrot cake – for no other reason than a couple of us seemed to be making them anyway! So I like carrot cake but they can get a bit samey so I wanted to try something a bit different. One of Judith’s favorite desserts is the Indian Gajar ka Halwa – a pudding of grated carrots, cardamon and milk. I thought it would be a brilliant idea which no one had ever thought of before. Of course they had. There were a few out there but I adapted this one a bit from Sunoj and Teena’s Kitchen at Ooonuready . I didn’t have any ghee so I subbed butter and coconut oil. I also added a ricotta and whipped cream frosting.

The recipe takes a bit of time because first you have to make the Gajar ka Halwa. I made too much but Judith didn’t mind because it keeps and is delicious any way! I wanted to make a creamy frosting but not cream cheese – mostly because I didn’t have any! I did however have a carton whole milk I’d bought on sale and needed to use up. So I decided to make a frosting with ricotta and whipped cream. Also someone, I think it was Vanadana, told me that Indian paneer cheese is basically the same as ricotta so that seemed appropriate to an Indian themed  cake!


Gajar ka Halwa

Carrots 500g
Milk 200ml
Coconut oil 50g
Cardamom 2-3 tsp
Sugar 50g
Raisins Some, or none, or lots

  1. Grate the carrots.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a wok or medium saucepan on a medium heat.
  3. Add the carrots and stir to coat well with the oil. Saute for a little while.
  4. Add the milk, sugar and cardamom and simmer gently stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  5. Once it has cooked down and reduced in volume by about a quater add the raisins and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.
  6. Take off the heat and set aside to cool a little.

I’m being deliberately vague with the spice. I felt like it needed a bit extra so I put 3 tsp if you’re not so keen scale it back.


All purpose flour 150g
Wholegrain spelt flour * 100g
Baking powder 2 tsp
Baking soda 1 tsp
Butter 250g
Sugar 250g
Eggs (separated) 4
Milk 1/2 cup
Vanilla essence 1 tsp

* This is optional you could also use wholewheat or if you like just use 250g total of AP flour.

  1. Generously butter a 9 inch spring-form cake pan and preheat the oven to 180C (355F)
  2. Sift the flours and baking powder / soda into a bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl or in a mixer cream together the butter and sugar
  4. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time and fully incorporated
  5. Put the butter/sugar egg yolk mix in a separate bowl and clean your mixer bowl thoroughly (Ah man really?!)
  6. Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks (see that’s why you needed to clean your bowl)
  7. Now fold the egg whites gently into the butter/sugar egg yolk mix being careful not to knock too much air out.
  8. Add the flours and milk a bit at a time and fold it all together.
  9. Now fold in two cups of the gajar ka halwa mix (eat any leftover!)
  10. Bake for a good 50 minutes until it passes the toothpick test.

Whipped ricotta frosting

Whole milk* 1 litre
Apple cider vinegar or lemon juice* 1/4 cup
Salt* 1/2 tsp
Whipping cream 1/2 cup
Vanilla to tase

* OR: just use 125g of bought ricotta cheese.

If you’re making your own ricotta:

  1. Heat the milk and salt in a pan to 165F stirring constantly
  2. Remove from heat. Add acid and stir briefly.
  3. Allow to cool and then strain through a cheesecloth for about 20 minutes

Then: put the ricotta and the rest of the ingredients together in a mixer and whisk with a balloon whisk until light and fluffy.


Once you have all the components and the cake is cooled. Cut the cake in half sandwich style and spread the frosting between and on top, either piping or just spreading. To garnish I warmed up a bit of honey with cardamom and drizzled it over the top.

Please follow and like us:

Bake #11: Maple Cookies

The Challenge:

Make N identical Maple Cookies

What happened?

So I was rather surprised by this bake. They are rather plain looking maple shaped shortbread sandwich cookies with a maple butter filling. It occurred to me straight away that this was going to be a close one to judge. Any baker of reasonable skill should be able to make shortbread cookies. So the trick here was obviously going to be to have them absolutely identical, perfectly baked and flawless. So right in my ballpark … erm, maybe.

Well I turned out some pretty good looking cookies. But then so did everyone else! This is going to be close


There was really not much to tell between all our cookies by looking at them. Bruno and Rochelle must have had a genuinely hard time ranking them. But never the less I came second and I’m pretty proud of that!


This was quite an enjoyable bake. However the thing I remember most from it was one little moment. I was putting the raw sugar on top of the cookies before baking. I was leaning close over them concentrating hard on getting an even distribution. The sunlight was coming in from my left and the light was just beautiful with the golden sugar. The cameraman was really enjoying capturing the light and getting a great shot. I think the only shot from it that made it to the cut was the featured image here.


Please follow and like us: