You know those friends who can make your chest burst with joy just by hearing their voices? The friends who can almost make you weep when you think how wonderful they are? I am lucky enough to have a handful of such friends. I am constantly surrounded by some of the most genuine, kind hearted and hilarious people which I think is the cause of the big grin on my face 92% of my waking hours (the other 8% is consumed by my blank confused stare face at work).
With one of my best friends moving to Germany this week I just thought I would write something about how much I love those gems in my life (you know who you are - you receive the really ugly snap chats from me haha).
I think why I love these young women (oh and my brother) so much is because they are reliable. You can count on them to never judge your bad life decisions (sometimes they high five you even), they have your back at all times, they are around 93% of the time to help you finish off a massive plate of dumplings and they reliably will make you laugh until you suddenly burn off all the dumplings and develop abs.
We have these core values at work and the one I identify with most is "do what you say you will do". It encompasses all things that you need to feel safe in your relationships; trust, reliability, commitment and just the ability to get shit done. It wasn't until I started at this company and they were laying the values on thick that I actually realised how much these things mattered to me and it clicked as to why the best friends that I do have hold the all sacred best friend title.
So if I was to turn friendship into a cake it would have to be my Mum's carrot cake recipe. No matter what you do (within reason) this cake will always turn out sweet and moist and it will keep on lasting for days. I am going to have to ask her where she got this recipe from, I vaguely remember and old fabric black book with a red book mark ribbon.
At work I am responsible for the birthday cake baking so when Sophie M's birthday came around, the requested cake was carrot. Now very rarely do I ooh and aah over a carrot cake. Most of the time I am disappointed with carrot cake because I always compare them to the lush cake Mum makes so I was keen to introduce everyone in the office to her recipe.
The secret to this cake is the crushed pineapple as well as throwing in a generous amount of chopped prunes and apricots. The prunes especially help to moisten the cake and deepen the flavour.
Mum usually makes a good tall 23cm cake. I prefer increasing my icing to cake ratio so like to make three stackable 20cm layers. Do whichever floats your boat.
Makes 1x thick 23cm cake or 3x20cm thinner cakes
2 1/4 cups whole meal flour
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soad
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup oil
3 large carrots, grated
1 cup crushed pineapple in juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup roughly chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup roughly chopped dried prunes
Cream cheese icing (make a 1.5x recipe if making a 3 layer cake)
125g cream cheese
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to bake at 180 degrees then grease and line your cake tin(s).
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, carrot, apricots and prunes.
In another bowl mix together the eggs, oil, vanilla and pineapple.
Pour the wet mixture into the dries and combine together.
Separate the mixture evenly between the cake tins. If making a single large cake, bake for an hour then test every ten minutes with a skewer after that until the skewer just comes out clean. The smaller 20cm cakes should take 35-40 minutes each (my oven is dodgy as hell so check your cakes after 30 minutes and gauge from there).
Leave your cakes to cool fully before even thinking about icing them.
To make the icing, bring the butter and cream cheese to room temperature. Beat on high with the vanilla until they become smooth and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Add more icing sugar for a stiffer icing or if you want a soft and sloppy icing keep the icing sugar to a minimum.
Ice your single cake like you normally would. For the layer cake, just level off the tops of the cakes if they are not already flat. Place about half a cup of icing onto the base and spread up until about 1cm from the edge then place over the middle later and repeat. Place on the top layer and cover the top with as much icing as your heart desires. If not eaten that same day, store in the fridge to keep the icing fresh.