Nelson the Spider

Nelson on One of His Midnight Web Making Missions

Just a really really quick (and slightly pointless) post about Nelson, our spider.

We haven’t seen him for a few day but I would like to thank him for all of the fun that he gave us whilst he was making his web. For anyone that doesn’t like spiders watching them at their work is amazing, plus Nelson was a bit of a character. Here are a few pictures of him and his work.

Nelson's Work in the Morning Dew - Fabulous!

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Carrot Cake

Rich has just had another member of staff join him at the Gadgetplex, so to celebrate I thought that I would make the team a cake. I asked Rich for inspiration and he choose carrot cake – it was meant to be the team but I guess that he’s the boss!

It was then that I realised that I don’t think that I have ever made a carrot cake – I have eaten plenty but it does tend to be one of those cakes that you eat when you are trying to be good; carrots are a vegetable after all. I did a search online and found a lot of recipes that play around with the basics – marscapone instead of cream cheese, coconut, pineapple, the list goes on…The thing that I was looking for is that cinnamon infused, faintly bicarb tasting, moist cake with hidden surprises of raisins and walnuts topped with an incredibly rich icing – or should I say frosting?

I realise that this looks like a lot of ingredients – something of a running theme on in my recipes – but it’s actually really simple; mix the dry ingredient, mix the wet ones, add them together, cook it, mix the icing, waiting until everything is cool, put it together and eat.

 

This is what happens when you don't chill the icing enough - lesson learnt

Recipe: Carrot Cake

Ingredients

  • 100g Raisins
  • 50ml Sloe Gin
  • 175g Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Ground Cloves
  • ½ tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 200g Soft Brown Sugar
  • 150ml Rapeseed Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 150-200g Grated Carrot – about 3 small ones
  • 75g chopped Walnuts
  • 1 tbsp Tahini
Icing
  • 200g Cream Cheese
  • 100g Butter Soften
  • Zest of an Orange
  • 1 tbsp Orange Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 250g Icing Sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat your over to gas mark 4.
  2. Grease and line two 9 inch cake tins.
  3. In a pan, bring the gin and raisins to the boil; simmer for about 5 minutes and then leave the raisins to soak up the liquid. FYI you can easily use rum or tea but I often have sloe gin…
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarb into a bowl and add the dried spice.
  5. In another large bowl, mix the sugar and oil.
  6. Add the eggs to the sugar mix, one by one, then add the carrot, walnuts, tahini and raisins.
  7. Gentle fold in the spiced flour and then split between the two cake tins. Put in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the cakes are cooked.
  8. Whilst you are waiting for the cakes to cook get on with the icing.
  9. Beat the orange zest, cheese and butter until it’s smooth.
  10. Add the vanilla and orange juice to the cheese mix and then gradually beat in the icing sugar.
  11. Once all of the sugar is mixed in out the icing into the fridge for about 10 minutes to firm up slightly.
  12. When the cakes are cooked – they should spring up when you press them and be slightly coming away from the sides of their tin – place them onto a wire rack to cool.
  13. Ice the cakes generously in the centre and on the top, if necessary let the icing slip down the sides (make sure that the cake is on its serving dish if you do!). Decorate with walnuts and serve – as Rich would say “om nom nom nom…”

Quick notes

This recipe is based on Dan Lepard’s “How to Bake” Carrot Cake with a couple of tweeks

Variations

If you don’t like raisins leave them out, same goes with walnuts. I think that this is one of those recipes that’s pretty tolerant – next time I make it I’m going to try adding banana

Preparation time: 25 minute(s)

Cooking time: 25 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 8

My rating 4 stars:  ????? 1 review(s)

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British Grand Prix

Unfortunately we didn’t have any British drivers on the podium for this weekend’s Grand Prix; on a plus point at least Alonso won (I actually can’t believe that I am saying that!). Lewis also gained six places and had a dramatic finish with Massa.

Another plus point was that our good friends, Tim and Louise, got married and it was a brilliant wedding – including the best Best Man’s speech that I have ever heard, delivered by Steve.

But now on to the most important part of the weekend – what did we have for our British Grand Prix Dinner???

The easiest route would be to make a roast dinner and be done with it.

The problem was that it’s summer and I don’t really fancy a roast dinner with all the trimmings in the summer time. Don’t get me wrong, an English roast dinner is one of the best things in the world; especially if you are slightly hung-over. What I love about them is that for something so simple, they are so versatile and can come out soooo differently.We have an old man’s pub close by and the roast’s there are like something that you Nan would make. On the other side of the park there is another pub that serves whole chickens which you carve yourself

But I digress, what I wanted to make was something traditionally English and summery. Therefore we had home-made scones with jam and cream during the Grand Prix and Coronation Chicken with new potatoes afterwards

 

Come on boys - lets get Red Bull off the British Podium! Image credit: Nelson Wu

 

It’s the British Grand Prix next weekend which means British food. We’re going to our good friends Tim & Louise’s wedding on Friday which means that we will miss practise but I guess that it’ll be worth it. All I have to do now is work out what I will be cooking – the obvious thing would be a roast dinner but I am going to try to think of something a bit more original and Red Bull beating. I have to think like Adrian Newey and design the perfect dinner…

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