The Ultimate Carrot Cake

The Ultimate Carrot Cake


The Ultimate Carrot Cake, so-called because it is full of so many goodies. Carrots, bananas, and walnuts all mixed into this delicious cake mixture. Then topped with a creamy cheese icing and sprinkled with nuts.


The Ultimate Carrot Cake
Prepares: 12 servings
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the cake
  • 3 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 170g (6 oz) light muscovado sugar/soft brown sugar (¾ cup)
  • 170g (6 oz) plain flour/cake and pasty flour (1½ cups)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 150ml (5 fl oz) oil (peanut or sunflower) (⅔ cup)
  • 200g (7 oz) walnut halves (1¾ cups)
  • 170g (6 oz) carrots, grated (3 medium, or 1 cup grated)
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

  • For the icing
  • 85g (3 oz) cream cheese (⅜ cup, or 3 tbsp)
  • 85g (3 oz) butter, softened (⅜ cup, or ¾ stick)
  • 170g (6 oz) icing/powdered sugar (1½ cups)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Equipment
  • 20cm (8 inch) diameter cake tin with removable base, greased

  1. Method
  2. For the cake
  3. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) gas 3.

  4. Set aside 28g (1 oz) (¼ cup) of the walnuts for the decoration and then chop the the rest into quarters.

  5. Beat the eggs and the sugar together in a large bowl until thick.

  6. Sift in the flour, baking powder, soda and salt and fold in gently.

  7. Gently stir in the oil until thoroughly combined.

  8. Next, stir in the bananas, then the carrot, and finally the walnut pieces.

  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

  10. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

  11. For the icing
  12. While the cake is baking, remove the cream cheese from the fridge to bring it to room temperature.

  13. Chop the reserved nuts into small pieces suitable for sprinkling over the top of the finished cake.

  14. Once the cake is cold, prepare the icing. Beat together the cream cheese and the butter until creamy.

  15. Beat in the vanilla extract.

  16. Sift in the icing/powdered sugar and beat well until smooth.

  17. Spread over the top of the cake and then sprinkle over the nuts.


Strawberry Cheesecake

Summer for me has always been about enjoying strawberries. I can remember when the season was very short because you could only buy locally grown ones. Memories of watching Wimbledon Tennis with a bowl of strawberries and cream – a wonderful combination where neither lasted long enough! Well perhaps the strawberry season lasted a little longer.  Now newer varieties are grown in many areas which extend the season and have a longer shelf life too. Meaning they are available in the stores for many months over the summer.

In U.K. stores they are mainly U.K. grown and here in Canada most are imported from the States, but wherever we have lived the best for me are those grown locally. Because they are not picked to travel far they tend to be left to ripen just that little bit longer which means they are sweet and full of flavour with an aroma which is always more intense. The best are those you can find being sold by the roadside outside the main towns.

A strawberry cheesecake recipe is always a must and here is my classic version. I hope you will enjoy it too.


Strawberry Cheesecake


This is a classic strawberry cheesecake. It has a sweet crumb base and a creamy cheese filling then topped with heaps of sliced strawberries and a gorgeous strawberry sauce.


Strawberry Cheesecake
Prepares: 8 servings (images show 4 servings size)
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 50 minutes
  • Cooling time: about 15 minutes

  • Ingredients

  • Strawberry Cheesecake

  • For the base
  • 170g (6 oz) Graham cracker crumbs (1¼ cups) OR
  • 170g (6 oz) plain digestive biscuits (12)*
  • 50g (1¾ oz) sugar (¼ cup)
  • 50g (1¾ oz) butter, melted (¼ cup)

  • *In North America you can buy packaged baking crumbs ready for using in desserts like cheesecakes. In the U.K. these aren’t readily available, so use plain digestive biscuits and just put them in a large plastic food bag and crush them with a rolling pin until they are broken into very small crumbs.

  • For the filling
  • 2 pkgs (250g each) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.)
  • 140g (5 oz) caster/white sugar (¾ cup less 2 tsp)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

  • For the topping
  • 675g (1 lb 8 oz) strawberries (about 1½ quart punnets)
  • 115g (4 oz) redcurrant jelly (2 tbsp)

  • Equipment
  • 23cm (9 inch) springform pan or loose-bottomed pan

  1. Method
  2. For the base
  3. Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) (gas 3)

  4. Mix the crumbs and sugar together in a bowl and pour over the melted butter. Stir to coat the crumb mixture.

  5. Strawberry Cheesecake

  6. Press into the pan pushing some of the crumbs up the sides to form a rim about 2cm (¾ inch) high and 1.25cm (½ in) wide.

  7. Strawberry Cheesecake

  8. Bake for 10 minutes then remove and leave to cool, about 20 minutes.

  9. For the filling
  10. Meanwhile, increase the oven temperature to 180°C (/350°F) gas 4.

  11. Beat the two packets of cheese together until soft and creamy, using a food mixer or electric hand mixer. Add the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract one at a time, beating well between each addition until smooth. Pour into the crumb crust.

  12. Strawberry Cheesecake

  13. Bake for 40 minutes or until just set. Leave to cool then refrigerate while preparing the topping or until 1 hour before you want to serve the cheesecake.

  14. Strawberry Cheesecake

  15. For the topping
  16. Wash, pat dry and hull the strawberries.

  17. Set aside 170g (6 oz) (about ½ small punnet) and purée. Strain so you are left with a smooth sauce.

  18. Melt the redcurrant jelly in a small pan over a low heat, stirring in the purée until blended together.

  19. Strawberry Cheesecake
  20. Strawberry Cheesecake

  21. Remove from the heat and pour into a small serving jug. Set to one side to cool.

  22. Slice the remaining strawberries.

  23. To serve
  24. No more than one hour before serving, carefully remove the cheesecake from the pan and decorate the top with the sliced strawberries.

  25. Strawberry Cheesecake

  26. Serve, cut into wedges and pour the strawberry sauce over.

Updated: July 17, 2017

Blackberry and Cream Cheese Tartlets

Blackberry and Cream Cheese Tartlets


Fresh fruit tarts always say summer and these blackberry and cream cheese tartlets don’t disappoint. Sweet pastry tartlets have a creamy cheese filling and are topped with fresh blackberries.


Blackberry and Cream Cheese Tartlets
Prepares: 6 tartlets
  • Preparation time: 40 minutes
  • Cooking time: 12 minutes
  • Chilling time: 1 to 2 hours

  • Ingredients
  • For the rich sweet pastry
  • 140g (5 oz) plain flour/cake and pastry flour (CA)/all-purpose flour (U.S.)(1 cup)
  • pinch salt
  • 28g (1 oz) caster/ white sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 85g (3 oz) unsalted butter, diced (⅜ cup or ¾ stick)
  • 2 eggs, large (U.K.)/extra large (N.A.), yolks only
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract, optional

  • For the filling
  • 250g (8 oz) cream cheese/Philadelphia (1 packet)
  • 85g (3 oz) caster sugar/white sugar (½ cup less 1 tbsp)
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 3 tbsp double cream/whipping cream

  • For the topping
  • 170g (6 oz) blackberries
  • icing sugar/powdered sugar to dust

  • Equipment
  • 6 tartlet tins

  1. Method
  2. For the rich sweet pastry (using a food processor or mixer)
  3. Put the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor or mixer. Whizz for a couple of seconds to mix. Add butter and whizz for a few seconds to blend. Then add egg yolks and vanilla extract, if using, and whizz until the mixture starts to bind together. knead lightly, then wrap in clingfilm. Chill for 10 minutes.

  4. Roll out the pastry thinly and then cut rounds 3.8cm (1½ in) larger than the tartlet tin, re-rolling the pastry until there are six rounds. Line the tartlet tins, pressing the pastry gently down into the edges of the tins. Roll the rolling pin over the top of each tin to remove the excess pastry. Prick the base using the tines of a fork, to allow air trapped underneath to escape. Now chill again while the oven is heating up.

  5. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) (gas 5).

  6. Lay the tins on a baking sheet and cover with baking parchment. Pop in the oven for 10 minutes and then remove the baking parchment and cook for a further 2 minutes to crisp up.

  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before carefully removing the cases from the tins to completely cool on a wire rack. They will be very delicate until completely cold.

  8. For the filling
  9. Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar and lemon zest together until creamy and well blended. Add the cream and beat again until there is a light, soft mixture.

  10. Once the pastry cases are cold they can be filled. Divide the mixture equally between the cases using a small pallet knife to spread the mixture into the edges of the pastry and then smooth the top.

  11. To finish
  12. Divide the blackberries between the cases pressing them down a little into the filling. Cover the tartlets loosely with clingfilm and then chill for 1 to 2 hours.

  13. Just before serving, dust the icing sugar/powdered sugar over the top of the tarts using a small sieve.

Updated August 10, 2017

Fruity Delight

Fruity Delight


A really scrumptious dessert. A shortbread base is topped with a light, creamy cheese mixture, topped with glazed raspberries and strawberries and then dusted with icing sugar.


Fruity Delight
Prepares: 8 servings
  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Standing time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking time: 15 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the base
  • 120g/4 oz plain flour/cake and pastry flour
  • 30g/1 oz icing sugar
  • 60g/2 oz butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk

  • For the topping
  • 200g/7 oz full-fat soft cheese
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • a few drops of vanilla essence
  • 200g/7 oz strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 200g/7 oz raspberries, washed
  • 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • icing sugar to dust

  1. Method
  2. For the base
  3. Sift the flour and icing sugar into a bowl. Mix in the butter using your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add enough egg yolk a little at a time until the mixture starts to bind together. I find starting off using a small palette knife to bring the mixture together is helpful as it keeps the dough light. Once it is binding together, knead lightly to form a ball.

  4. Roll out the dough to a 20cm/8 inch round, then place on a baking sheet. Prick well with a fork, decorate the edges using the tines of the fork, then, using a knife, mark the pastry lightly into 8 equal sections.

  5. Chill, while preheating the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

  6. Bake the base for 15 minutes until just starting to brown. Re-mark the sections while it is still hot to make it easier for serving. Cool on a wire rack.

  7. For the topping
  8. Beat the soft cheese until it is creamy, then add the crème fraîche, icing sugar and vanilla essence. Beat until light and fluffy.

  9. Spread on the shortbread base, leaving a narrow border so that the decorative edge shows and the marked sections are still visible.

  10. If the strawberries are large, halve or quarter them. You want the raspberries and strawberries to be of a similar size. Cover the topping with the fruit.

  11. Put the redcurrant jelly in a small container and stir in 2 tablespoons of water. Microwave on medium for 30–60 seconds when the jelly should have dissolved and the mixture is bubbling. Leave to cool. Alternatively, heat in a small pan.

  12. Carefully brush the fruit with the jelly and then, just before serving, dust with icing sugar.


Raspberry Creamy Parcels


Raspberry Creamy Parcels


Another summer favourite. These little parcels are delightful. Raspberries are folded in a creamy blend of mascarpone and cream cheese and then chilled. They are topped with a mixed berry compote and decorated with raspberries.


Raspberry Creamy Parcels
Prepares: 4 servings
  • Preparation time: 25 minutes
  • Freezing time: 45 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • For the parcels
  • 170g/6 oz cream cheese (Phili)
  • 170g/6 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 50g/2 oz butter, softened
  • 40g/1½ oz caster sugar/fine with sugar
  • 110g/4 oz raspberries
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

  • For the compote
  • 225g/8 oz mixed frozen berries, thawed
  • 25g/1 oz caster sugar/extra fine sugar

  • Equipment
  • 4 × 8cm/3 inch ramekin dishes

  1. Method
  2. For the parcels
  3. Line the four ramekin dishes with cling film, overlapping the edges, and set to one side.

  4. Beat together the cream cheese and mascarpone in a large bowl. (A food mixer or hand held whisk does this easily.)

  5. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then stir in the vanilla extract. Add to the cheeses and beat well to combine.

  6. Reserve 12 raspberries for decoration and gently fold the rest into the cheese mixture.

  7. Divide the mixture between the ramekins, tapping them a few times on the work surface to remove any air pockets. Fold excess film over the top and place in the freezer to become firm, about 45 minutes.

  8. For the fruit compote
  9. Meanwhile prepare the fruit compote. Place the fruit in a small pan and sprinkle over the sugar. Over a medium heat, cook the fruit until it starts bubbling, then reduce the heat to a medium-low setting and, using a wooden spoon, break up any larger fruit pieces, mashing the fruit slightly. Continue to cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

  10. To serve
  11. Unfold the cling film from the top of the ramekins and invert each one on a plate, then carefully remove the rest of the cling film. Spoon the fruit compote over the parcels and place 3 raspberries on each to decorate.


Stuffed Sole

Stuffed Sole


Sole fillets are a delicate fish and here they are cooked with a cream cheese, parsley and lemon stuffing, which adds to the flavour of the fish without overpowering it. Cooks in just 20 minutes for a delicious meal.


Stuffed Sole
Prepares: 4 servings
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Ingredients
  • 8 sole fillets (about 140g/5 oz each)
  • 50g/2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup soft breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1½ lemons, juice only
  • pepper
  • paprika

  • To serve
  • Serve with asparagus, when in season, or French beans/fine green beans. Asparagus is delicious with this dish as it complements the delicacy of the sole.

  • Equipment
  • An ovenproof dish large enough to take 4 fillets in a single layer

  1. Method
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C400°F/gas mark 6

  3. Tip the breadcrumbs in a large frying pan/skillet and, over a medium heat, toast them until quite crispy, about 5 minutes. Shake the pan often to turn the crumbs.

  4. In a mixing bowl combine the breadcrumbs with the cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of the chopped parsley, pepper and the juice of one lemon.

  5. Place four of the fillets in the ovenproof dish in a single layer. Spread the filling over the four fillets. Top with the four remaining fillets.

  6. Sprinkle paprika over the top of the fish and squeeze over the juice of the remaining half lemon.
  7. Bake, uncovered, in the oven for 20 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

  8. This can also be microwaved, covered, on a high for 8 minutes. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes before serving.