You'll know by now how much I hate waste! I spend a lot of time developing recipes to use up those ingredients that got overlooked for just a little too long and are seemingly past their best.
This always happens to grapes in our household. The bunches are attacked when they are plump, luscious and firm. But after a while, they wither and people start to avoid them in the fruit bowl. Past their best, they are overlooked and, invariably, find their way into the compost or bin! It's time to see these wrinkly old grapes for what they are: young raisins! Too moist still to be substituted for raisins without further dehydration, but perfect for a wet batter mix such as carrot cake!
Et voila! Our grape and carrot loaf cake! A delicious variation of an old favourite: sweet, moist and beautifully textured with seeds and nuts, and complemented by a tangy sour cream frosting.
It's an easy all-in-one-bowl batter method. Just take your time preparing all your ingredients before you start, turn your oven on and away you go...
Grape and carrot loaf
(makes 1 large loaf cake)
For the batter:
Self raising flour 200g
Vegetable oil 170ml
Grated carrots 200g
‘Old’ black grapes 80g
Pumpkin seeds 30g
Granulated sugar 90g
Brown sugar 90g
Medium eggs 3
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
Fine sea salt ½ tsp
Cinnamon* 1 tsp
Cardamom* 1 tsp
Zest of 1 orange
Freshly grated nutmeg
*(if you don’t have individual spices, substitute with 2 tsp mixed spice overall)
For the sour cream frosting:
Unsalted butter, softened 150g
Icing sugar, sifted 300g
Sour cream or crème fraiche 100g
Preheat your oven to 160°C (140°C Fan)/320°F
Firstly sift together your SR flour, spices and salt.
Now, place your oil, sugars and eggs together in a mixing bowl and beat together. Stir in your vanilla extract and grated carrots. Depending on the size of your grapes and how wrinkled they have become, either half or quarter them and add to your bowl. Now throw in your nuts, seeds, orange zest and sultanas and combine. Mix the final batter by gradually stirring in your flour/spice mix. Don’t over beat your batter at this stage (you will develop gluten which will make your cake rubbery); the flour just needs to be evenly incorporated. Pour your batter into a greased and lined tin – I like to use a large loaf tin for this cake.
Place your cake into the preheated oven. The wet batter mix is going to need long, slow baking at a cooler than usual temperature - approximately 90 mins at 160°C. Check the cake after 80-85 minutes. The cake will appear ‘set’ if gently jiggled, will have shrunk away from the sides and a skewer will come out clean. However, it is far easier to use a digital probe thermometer, which takes the guess work out of baking and avoids the disappointment of a soggy middle or bottom. The cake will be ideally cooked in the range of 96°C - 98°C. At 100°C, the moisture in the cake will begin to evaporate, leaving your cake dry and overcooked.
When cooked, leave to cool for twenty minutes or so in the tin and then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
To prepare the frosting:
Make sure your butter is very soft before attempting to mix your icing. Use the butter softening mode on your microwave, if necessary. Then, to the softened butter add your sifted icing sugar and gently blend in. Once incorporated, you can beat your buttercream until light and airy, then beat in your sour cream or crème fraiche. The slight acidity of the cream cuts through the sweetness giving a wonderfully tart edge to your frosting.
When the cake is completely cool, frost and decorate your cake with pecans, orange zest or edible flowers.
Store somewhere cool - remember the frosting contains fresh dairy.
Our workshops are run by award-winning sourdough baker Helen Underwood.