‘Don’t be surprised if you hear the sound of the stand mixer at 4 in the morning’, I told Agnel the night before, to which he calmly asked ‘why, what are you planning to do?’. ‘I am going to bake a cake,’ I said. He very casually said, ‘Ok.’ He has known me for almost ten years now and so not in his wildest dreams, could ever imagine that I could wake up that early.
Waking up early was one thing I could never do before coming to Dubai. Even 7.00 a.m seemed a little too soon to me :), although staying awake till late in the night was much easier.
It’s going to be a year in Dubai and one thing I found dreading in the initial months was sending Nivaan to school. Here schools start early. My Son has to leave the house by 6.30, and you know what that means. Sleeping early and waking up early, which was both very difficult.
Having said that, I always wanted to wake up early especially since I started blogging because I was falling short of time. Now with a baby and a 6-year old, I finally get time to work and have figured out that early in the morning is the best time for distraction-free writing and baking. Seriously! With a baby around, I never thought that was possible for few more years and to answer your question, Yes! I baked this cake at 4.00 in the morning. 🙂
Hopefully like this dates and carrot cake, all my baking will take place in the early morning hours.
Halloween is over, Thanksgiving will be over soon, and then we will be into the Christmas season.
Oh! I am already missing Orlando since this was my favorite time of the year to be in that part of the world.
The aroma of cinnamon, trick or treat, pumpkins, Halloween decorations, fall colors, winter boots, turkey, Christmas decorations, the non-stop Christmas carols, the stores packed with Christmas stuff are few of the things that are making me nostalgic.
Lifting my Christmas spirits, I am sending your way this excellent Christmas cake recipe. Its slightly chewy because of the carrots, almost blackish because of the caramel and dates and a perfect celebration cake.
Your friends, family, and coworkers will love it.
I first had this cake from a bakery in Kerala, India. It was so irresistible that I almost ate the whole thing. Ever since I have wanted to recreate this cake and it has finally happened.
Another quick and easy dessert you can make is this no-bake brownie balls /rum balls. (doesn’t rum make all the dessert taste fantastic. I am not a fan of alcohol in any other way 🙂 ) Since we are talking about rum, Kerala plum cake, is another great thing to try. (Here the plums soaked in rum are used).
So let the countdown to Christmas begin…….
The lines on the cake are because I inverted the cake onto a wire rack.
Here is a tip to get flat cakes. Cut a kitchen cloth(cotton cloth) into a strip, matching the width of your pan. Dip it in water and slightly squeeze the extra water out. Just make sure that the water doesn’t drip.
Wrap this around your cake pan and secure it with a safety pin. This method ensures that the cake bakes evenly and you are left with softer exterior and well-done interior. ( You also get readymade Wilton baking strips from craft stores like Joanns and Michaels)
The idea of using baking strips also comes handy when you are planning to frost and layer cakes since you have one less task of leveling the cakes.
- 1 and 1/2 cups (180g) All purpose Flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup (160ml) vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup (140g) sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup carrots grated
- 2/3 cup dates finely chopped
- 1/2 cup cashews chopped
- FOR CARAMEL
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 1/4 cup (60ml) hot water
TO PREPARE CARAMEL:
Add sugar to a saucepan or skillet and place it on medium-high heat. The sugar will start melting slowly. Once the sugar starts melting, turn down the heat to medium, and keep swirling the pan in between.
The moment sugar starts to change color, turn the heat to low and keep swirling, taking care that the caramel doesn't burn. (It takes only a few seconds for the caramel to change from perfect to burnt, so be careful). You are looking for a darker color because that is what makes the cake dark.
Once the caramel bubbles, add hot water to the caramel, then mix, take it off the heat and keep aside. Let the caramel cool completely. (Check notes if caramel thickens)
TO MAKE CAKE:
Preheat the oven to 160 Degrees Celsius/ 325 Degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 8*3 inch cake pan with parchment paper, coat with oil and dust with flour.
Whisk together flour + baking soda + salt and keep aside.
In another bowl mix eggs + sugar until you reach the consistency of mayonnaise.
To this add oil and beat well for additional 2-3 minutes.
Now add the cooled caramel and vanilla and mix well again
Add flour little at a time and mix only until incorporated.
Squeeze the carrots well with both your hands to remove as much water as possible. Add the carrot to dates and mix well. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour over this and coat well. (This is important or the dates and carrots can sink to the bottom.
Add the carrots dates mix and fold it well into the batter.
Pour into the prepared cake pan, place in the center of the oven and bake for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Please refer the notes before you start baking.
If the caramel thickens add about 1/2 cup of warm water to the pan and let it simmer on low heat till the caramel melts.
This cake is baked at lower temperature (Very important) which ensures that the middle of the cake cooks evenly while the outside doesn't burn.
To get a flat cake and for even baking, cut double strips from a kitchen towel (make sure its cotton), dip it in water and squeeze the water just enough that the water doesn't drip. Secure this with a safety pin.
(If you are doing this for the 1st time, keep an eye)
(You also get wilton strips if you don't want to use homemade option)