from one generation to the next
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.
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
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.