We have our friend Mela visiting Kaş from Canada at the moment. She has been brave enough to accompany us on a couple of walks this week – unfortunately, although she wore her hiking boots on the plane so that they couldn’t get lost, they repaid her for this kindness by parting company with their soles on the first trip out. They spent a night being super-glued in the cobbler’s vice in town, so she decided to give them another go yesterday. Half way down the sand dunes at Patara, they gave up the ghost, so we had to tape her into them. This is what we do to our guests – you have been warned.
It has happened to all of us on occasions – always when we are at the furthest point from transport. Remedies have included spare boot laces, string, duct tape (our favourite) and even a spare pair of socks, worn on the outside, to contain flapping toe pieces. We did lend Mela a knife to cut herself out of them eventually…
Today, our vet has been neutering cats in our village, so we’ve been trailing around since early this morning with tempting morsels of chicken, cheese and sausage, trying to lure unsuspecting felines into our traps. Unfortunately, our own cats repeatedly sneak in and fire the traps, also guzzling a large number of treats of course, while the ones we are going after sit washing themselves in the sun. Our cats love neutering day.
Our hedgerows are full of the most beautiful wild flowers at the moment, so I decided I would make a pretty spring cake for the cat-catching volunteers to share for their coffee break. I had a couple of soft bananas and a drawer full of carrots in the fridge, so a passion cake seemed particularly appropriate, given that we are on the last day of the Easter holiday weekend.
This is a cake I have been making for more than 30 years and, other than occasionally changing the spice combination, I still stick to the original recipe, which came in my Ski Supertravel Chalet Girl’s handbook. On this occasion, I decided to use a Bundt tin, as I thought it would show off the flowers particularly well.
Do keep your eye on it – my Bundt tin has a black non-stick lining, which I think contributed to the outside of the cake ending up a little darker than I would really have liked. If you don’t have a Bundt tin, you can make this in a normal round cake tin – it will not be quite so deep and will need slightly longer in the oven. Do make the effort to make the icing – it really does make this cake a lovely treat, and you can swap the lemon for an orange or lime if you feel like ringing the changes.
Cuts into 10 – 12 slices
175g carrots, washed and grated on the finer side of a box grater (or grate in the processor)
175g brown sugar (I used Demerara, any kind is fine)
2 soft bananas
175ml sunflower or other neutral-tasting vegetable oil
A generous pinch of salt
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
50g walnuts (chopped if you are not using a food processor)
100g sultanas or raisins
A few edible spring flowers or more chopped nuts to decorate – I used borage and daisies
For the cream cheese frosting:
50g very soft butter
50g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
1 lemon – zest and juice (you may only the juice of half)
You will need a 23cm (or similar dimension) Bundt or round springform tin, well greased
Pre-heat the oven to 175C.
Put the carrots, sugar, bananas, eggs and sunflower oil into the food processor* and process until well combined, but so that you can still see little pieces of carrot. (If you don’t have a food processor, just mash the bananas and then mix everything with a balloon whisk).
Add the salt, flour, bicarb, baking powder and spices and process again (or fold in the dry ingredients with a spoon if you are mixing by hand).
Add the walnuts and pulse until the walnuts are in small pieces – this will only take a few seconds.
Finally, add the sultanas and pulse for a couple of seconds until they are mixed in – you don’t want them to be chopped.
Pour the mixture in to the tin (make sure this is well greased) and bake for around 50 minutes if using a Bundt tin, or around 60 minutes in a normal round cake tin. The cake should be well risen and just very slightly shrinking away from the edge of the tin, and a skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean.
Turn the cake onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
For the cream cheese frosting, beat the butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and lemon zest in a bowl until smooth. Add enough lemon juice to give you a soft spreading consistency – I only used half of my lemon.
Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and smooth with the back of a spoon if necessary.
Finally, decorate with flowers as you wish (or sprinkle with more chopped nuts if you prefer).