Tag Archives: cake

Carrot and Cranberry Cake with Saffron Cream Cheese Icing

I’m tickled pink today.

It’s not the impending “ughness” of Valentine’s Day, it’s not a new romance, it’s not anything in particular. I’m just happy because I baked.


I’m still in my PJs. I woke up this morning and took on an unknown feat in my kitchen. I just finished washing the last bowl. I gotsta get me a kitchen fairy!
This is my first carrot cake, but yet, I was feeling adventurous. There’s no fun in doing anything strictly by the book, even though successful baking often hinges on that principle.

I used SJA de Villiers’ recipe from Kook en Geniet (strictly, I’ve got “Cook and Enjoy” but I just feel like a soutie saying that). That tannie knew how to cook and she was an expert recipe writer, something many good chefs have yet to master. It’s also something very integral to the success of a recipe. It’s so much more than a list of ingredients and an oven temperature…

Naturally though, I needed to put my own spin on things.

So here is my adjusted version of Kook en Geniet‘s Carrot Cake.


Carrot and Cranberry Cake with Saffron Cream Cheese Icing

2 cups cake flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
1tsp salt
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup oil
1 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup muscovado sugar
a splash of water
4 eggs, whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecan nuts
2 cups grated carrot
1 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup soft butter
300g icing sugar
125g hard cream cheese (the block)
1/2 tsp saffron
vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line cake tins (I used one cake tin and one muffin pan).
Sift together flour, spice, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, cream sugar, butter, oil and water until light and creamy. Mine stayed quite fluid. Add eggs and extract and mix. Fold in dry ingredients, then fold in nuts, cranberries and carrot.
FYI – to chop the pecan nuts, I simply took a hammer to the closed packet – and presto.

Transfer batter to the pans and bake for around 45 minutes, but I’d say 35-40 if your oven is a firecracker.

For the icing, beat 1/2 cup icing sugar and butter until creamy. Gradually add more icing sugar until it’s all been mixed in.  Then add the cream cheese. Beat for a very short period until just combined.

Heat saffron for 90s in the microwave. Crush in a mortar and pestle, or, if like me you don’t have one, use a bowl and the back of the knife. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract to the saffron and add the the icing mixture. Mix to combine.

If it’s a hot day, put the icing in the fridge and let is set a little before icing the cake.


I tried the petal method for the first time on my 70s-inspired heart shaped cake. It was partly successful, but I don’t think cream cheese the best fit for this decorating technique.

For the cupcakes I added some crimson food colouring to the icing for sweet pre-Valentine’s treats, and also to denote the presence of the cranberries.




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Roses are red, and cakes are too…

Valentine’s Day is schmucky, schmaltzy and OTT. But sometimes it provides the perfect inspiration to get my ass back in the kitchen.

Red Velvet Cake

Hearts and flowers for Valentine's Day

After a tear-inducing episode with a flopped milktart a few weeks back, I swore off the kitchen. We survived on take-aways, tins and toast. It was a dark time in our culinary lives…

But I finally made my return and decided to make it a grand one.

Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

I used Colleen’s recipe because her recipes always turn out well (UNLIKE Beluga’s milktart recipe…).

However, the heart shape and the cute little icing clouds are all my own genius. And of course the pearls…

Thanks to our nice neighbours for planting the lovely nasturtiums and letting me steal one.

Red Velvet Cake

So take a bite and succumb to the wiles of Valentine’s Day.

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27 Cupcakes

I always bake for my birthday. I always go to work on my birthday.  I like the attention, but that’s no surprise, is it? It’s double the joy – I get a “Happy Birthday!” as well as praise for the effort of bringing cake. It’s really more about me than them, I’ll admit it.

Cocoa Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Birthday letters

On this, my 27th birthday, I made vanilla cupcakes with cocoa cream cheese icing. I take no credit – just labour costs.

My colleague Ulpha gave me the fantastic cake recipe which can be used for full-sized cake in a variety of colours and flavours with the same great results. But I really love making it for the joy of licking the batter out of the bowl. Always been a ‘batter is better’ kinda girl.

The icing is an adaptation of Browniegirl’s cream cheese icing that she uses for her carrot cake.

I decorated them with sugar pearls from Nicoletta (picked them up for a bargain at the Good Food and Wine Show) because a pearl is June’s birthstone.

Mom always gave all the kids at our birthday parties presents. When I was in boarding school, she would not only bring a care package for me, but my entire dorm room. So in an effort to follow suit, everyone got a cupcake with their initial on it. Oulik, né?

Cocoa Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Cocoa Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Makes approximately 24 small cupcakes

3 extra large eggs, separated
1 ¾ cup of castor sugar
¼ cup of canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups of self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup of boiling milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Beat the egg whites while gradually adding the sugar. It will get deliciously thick and white quite quickly. Slowly add the oil while still beating. Then gooi in the egg yolks and vanilla essence. If it’s very thick, just hold on to your apron strings, we’re going to fix it now now.

Sift the dry ingredients together and sift again into the egg mixture. Fold with a metal spoon. Put your favourite love song on while doing this and take it slow like your first vasdans at the school sokkie. Then add the boiling milk and fold a few more times. Give it one more slow woer with the electric beater to make sure there aren’t any flour clumps.

Pour batter into paper cupcake cups inside a cupcake pan. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until slightly golden on top.
Remove from the oven and leave it to cool in a place that’s out of sight for prying eyes who want to taste it before it’s even gotten dressed with icing!

Cocoa Cream Cheese Icing:
1/3 cup of butter (about 100g) softened
2 cups of icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
50-75ml of sour cream (depending on how tart you like it)
100g of cream cheese – I only use Simonsberg
½ cup of cocoa

Beat the butter until it’s almost white. Gradually add the sugar, bit by bit. Once it’s thick and tough to manoeuvre, add the vanilla and sour cream and beat to incorporate.  Then add the cream cheese bit by bit until it’s the desired consistency. Please… if it’s getting to thin, PUT DOWN the cream cheese. If it’s too thick, don’t be afraid or too snoep to add a bit more. You are going to have to eat these cupcakes after all… J Finally add the cocoa and beat slowly to blend. The amount is also just a guideline dependent on the level of chocolaty-ness you’re after. I don’t think you could add too much though. The more chocolaty, the better.

Spread this glorious goodness liberally on top of cooled cupcakes. The best part is the icing doesn’t get hard and is good for two or so days.

I can’t describe the fun I have making these little diabetes-inducing darlings. Damn!  It’s hard work trying to make an ‘S’ out of these little pearls, but so worth every expletive and the ruined apron and kitchen towels.


Filed under Desserts