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The Cookbook Guru – Katie Ate Carrot Cake


Katie Quinn-Davies is well known among food bloggers as the Irish food stylist who married an Aussie, started a food blog and became a published cookbook author on the strength of her phenomenally successful photographic style.

The Cookbook Guru is looking at Katie’s first cookbook “What Katie Ate.”

My borrowed library copy is well worn but that doesn’t detract from the visual impact of this book. Each and every page is styled, even the end sheets have been given a shabby chic workover. Katie shares original recipes from her blog, but also recipes passed on from her Mum, her husband, her girlfriends and colleagues.

Reading through the recipe for  Katie Quinn-Davies’ Carrot Cake with Cointreau Soaked Sultanas, I encountered vague ingredient quantities. I’m of the opinion that there is no room for ambiguity in recipe writing. Inexperienced cooks need clear and concise instructions to help them learn, so interpreting “3 carrots” and the “juice of 1 orange” presented me with a minor dilemma. As a carrot cake lover from way back, I referenced a tried and true recipe with more specific instructions as my guide. My only other gripe was the instruction to bake the cakes in madeleine moulds, not, I believe, standard kitchen equipment. I used large muffin tins instead.

As blood oranges are out of season  I chose a standard Valencia. I made a few other changes as I went, I just can’t help myself. I made a direct swap of gluten free plain flour with the addition of a teaspoon of xantham gum for the wheat flour. I resisted adding the seeds of a vanilla bean, in my opinion an extravagant inclusion in any cake so I used vanilla essence instead. Using maple syrup instead honey meant I could eat cake too.

My cakes were cooked through after 25 minutes in the oven, less than half the recommended time

It was a humid day when I baked. Lemon juice seemed like a fresher option than cream and vanilla in the icing. I think that by eliminating the butter too, the mixture would have been much lighter, more in keeping with a classic cream cheese carrot cake topping and also much more to my taste.

The carrot cake itself was nice but not outstanding, but no cake lasts long around my other half so true to form, he needed no coaxing to eat these before they went stale.

I have no prejudice against cookbooks without pictures, I believe the written word gives the content gravitas. “What Katie Ate” on the other hand is all about the photos, the reason to have a recipe on the page. I have flicked through the pages of of this book many times when browsing in my favourite book shops, but found little to tempt me. I suspect if I owned a copy, it would languish on my bookshelf.

I will try another recipe later in the month in the spirit of participation in the Cookbook Guru.

I’d love to see how you rate “What Katie Ate” by Katie Quinn-Davies. Why not join in?

Carrot Cakes with Cointreau Soaked Sultanas
1/2 cup sultanas (golden raisins)

1/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon Cointreau

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup light flavoured oil (I used grapeseed oil)

1/2 cup maple syrup

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 1/2 cups GF Plain flour

1 teaspoon xantham gum

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Pinch salt

2 cups lightly packed grated carrot

cream cheese icing:

135g icing sugar

85g unsalted butter, softened

80g cream cheese

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

 

The night before put the sultanas in the orange juice and cointreau and leave to macerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease a tray of 12 large muffin holes and line with paper cases.

In a medium bowl whisk together the brown sugar, oil, eggs, maple syrup and vanilla essence.

Into a large bowl sift the flour, xantham gum, ginger, raising agents and salt.

Using a wooden spoon mix the wet ingredients into the dry.

Add the grated carrot and soaked sultanas, mix well.

Spoon into the prepared muffin tin, then bake in the centre of the oven until cooked in the centre when tested with a skewer, 20-25 minutes.

Remove the cakes to a wire rack to cool.

To make the topping, beat the butter, cream cheese and lemon juice together until light and fluffy.

When the cakes are cold top them with the cream cheese icing and scatter with chopped walnuts.

Makes 12

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

36 comments on “The Cookbook Guru – Katie Ate Carrot Cake

  1. Pingback: Rosemary and Blood Orange Cake - Retro Food For Modern Times

  2. sherry from sherrys pickings
    November 20, 2015

    i like your thinking here sandra. i have been going thru this book trying to find a recipe i want to make, and it just ain’t happening. just not my type of food or methods that i use. frankly i am surprised that this book has done so well. i will keep looking tho. surely there will be a recipe i want to cook?!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 20, 2015

      I think it’s about the photos and styling, not the food. Maybe the recipes are more appealing to the younger generation

      Liked by 1 person

  3. dunelight
    November 19, 2015

    You had me at “Cointreau Soaked Sultanas”.

    Like

  4. Rebecca Alexandra
    November 19, 2015

    Mhmmm. Looks good!!

    Like

  5. Food from Michelle's kitchen
    November 18, 2015

    Ah sigh… Food shot in natural light – lovely!

    Like

  6. Gather and Graze
    November 17, 2015

    Great post Sandra, though a shame that the recipe had it’s share of issues. I have this book on the shelf (and to be honest, that’s mostly where it stays…) more used for photo styling inspiration than anything else.
    Oh and I feel awful now for gifting you honey, when I didn’t realise you couldn’t eat it! So many other delicious things I could have tucked in there instead… M.xx

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 17, 2015

      Mal was overjoyed to see a jar of honey on the kitchen bench, a special treat for the poor honey deprived man, so please don’t feel bad. He says a huge thanks and he’ll return the jar for a refill…

      Like

  7. Leah
    November 15, 2015

    Reblogged this on The Cookbook Guru and commented:

    It seems appropriate to share this with you on a Sunday as I often think Sunday’s are the perfect day for a treat like cake. Lady Red Specs has recreated What Katie Ate’s Carrot Cakes for us all and along the way explored the challenges of recipes shared on food blogs.

    Happy Reading and Happy Baking,
    Leah

    Like

  8. Sue
    November 11, 2015

    I agree with Debi’s comments…and your photo is great!

    Like

  9. Debi @ My Kitchen Witch
    November 10, 2015

    Love the dark and light of the cupcake photo. I have always thought that recipes are there for a guide and I totally agree with your acts of substitution – something knowledgeable cooks can do with aplomb. You are also right that novice cooks need more precise instructions to begin with.

    Like

  10. The Hungry Mum
    November 10, 2015

    I haven’t come across this book so I can’t comment specifically but I am a believer in a photo per recipe. I like to know how something will turn out before baking. Good call swapping honey for maple syrup – I love the syrup! What a stylish pic.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 11, 2015

      The images are amazing, it’s an interesting exercise to try the recipes

      Like

  11. tarynnicole
    November 10, 2015

    Your photo is gorgeous. I had also chosen this as one to make, on your advice, I will also try something else! xx

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 10, 2015

      Thanks Tarryn, the photo gods were smiling on me the day I took that pic! Look forward to seeing which recipe you choose and reading your experience with it

      Like

  12. Lisa @ cheergerm
    November 10, 2015

    Beautiful photo indeed Mrs R. Those days that the light is right are always a tad exciting, photographically speaking. Seeing as you have done the gf work here, I am going to try these soon. I love a good carrot cake but never make them…don’t know why really.

    Like

  13. Kitchen-Counter-Culture
    November 10, 2015

    Thanks for speaking so honestly. I understand that people want really precise recipes. On the contrary I try to write about letting oneself be an imperfect but empowered cook without recipes. I really don’t like approaches that are more about image and styling than true knowledge and experience sharing. It’s true that you do everything at once, which is why you are so fabulous! 🙂

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 10, 2015

      Oh Annie you’re too kind! I’m a freeform cook mainly, but blogging has built discipline into my food prep, i weigh and measure as I go so I can share recipes

      Like

  14. Mel Kettle
    November 10, 2015

    I also loved Katie’s blog, despite finding it all very dark (visually). I share your frustration with recipes that don’t give a more precise amount, especially when baking.

    Like

  15. Francesca
    November 10, 2015

    Your photo sets another benchmark -absolutely stunning. I followed Kate’s blog before she went totally commercial .The photos were well styled but after a while ,there was a sameness about them , they were over stylized and visually tiring.I have never seen a recipe of hers that excited me.

    Your photo and version, however, does.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      November 12, 2015

      Sorry I’ve been slow to respond..Thanks for the complement re the photo, inclined to agree about the sameness, I see it in the recipes too

      Like

    • sherry from sherrys pickings
      November 20, 2015

      so glad i am not the only one who finds her recipes unappealing; and her methods are cumbersome too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Francesca
        November 20, 2015

        The photography is initially appealing but the style is repetitive ;old wooden boards , bits of linen,cluttered platters-I am so tired of food stylists dominating at the expense of a good recipe and sound method. Does that sound too harsh ?

        Liked by 2 people

  16. Jhuls
    November 10, 2015

    I just want to take those cupcakes out from the screen and stuff them all in my mouth. 😀 Gorgeous! xx

    Like

  17. Leah
    November 10, 2015

    Wow… Amazing photo, that studio of yours is definitely giving some beautiful light 🙂 Shame about the cakes being less than spectacular, here’s hoping another recipe has more substance and success. X

    Liked by 1 person

    • ladyredspecs
      November 10, 2015

      Never have I had such beautiful light for photography, just need to convince Qld to get with it and convert to summertime, the extra hour of light would be ideal at the end of the day

      Liked by 1 person

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