Hope you all had a great Diwali time. I really liked the hype of Diwali celebrations on the social network and the blogs. For me, Diwali is associated with nothing but the Indian sweets and my feeds and updates have been overflowing with bloggers posting Diwali sweets! The amount of sweets that were being cooked by fellow bloggers did tickle my sweet tooth. But I had to succumb myself to a little cake to satiate my sweet craving. During Diwali my dad used to bring home some desi mithais and that is what I missed the most.
This is my 250th recipe post and I would like to thank all my dedicated readers and friends for the constant support and to reach this milestone. Without you this would have been just impossible. Even though my posts come erratically, you supported me and checked on me on regular basis. Thanks to one and all for the continuous support and love. Thank you for making me feel that I have a world of friends who love me unconditionally. Thank you for everything.
Before I get on to my recipe, let me share you few photographs of few wonderful places that we’ve been to – The Oban, Isle of Mull and Isle of Iona. These are places in the North Western part of the UK, The Mighty Scotland. It is naturally very beautiful place, with stunning landscape and sceneries and lot of history to speak.
The place is adorned with lakes, castles, mountains, fields etc. It’s just few hours from where we live, the north East. So we tend to drive to Scotland around our anniversary in April. We have covered almost all of Scotland now, visiting all important spots and I am still looking forward to going there again and again. It is just couple of hours drive from our place and a piece of heaven on earth. This time I am going to share some pictures from our last trip, Oban and couple of surrounding islands. I shall cover rest of Scotland in some post later.
We try to take off from our regular routine and travel across the country ones or twice a year. Last year we drove to Oban which is situated in the west coast of Scotland. It’s is about four and a half hours drive from Newcastle and the drive is splendid with scenic beauty, spectacular landscapes, lakes and mountains. There is much more to discover than just the dramatic landscape for which the Scotland is known for.
Castles, towns, distilleries, islands, villages, sea safari are some of the things you would want to keep in mind when you visit Oban. There is lot to see in and around Oban and two days is too short to go through all of them. But you may choose what you want to do once you reach there. Every hotels and b&b will have many booklets and leaflets of interesting things that could be done around the area, but a detailed search on the net would save you much time. You may also go through the guides and booklets or the official Scottish tourist site for more information.
Oban is known as the ‘gateway of isles’ as the car ferries head for eight islands near Oban. Oban’s largest Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne or Calmac do an extensive service in and around Oban. We stayed in a hotel in Corran esplanade in Oban bay overlooking the Kerrera Island which is visible directly from the Oban bay. Although kerrera being a large island, it is less populated and it is quite compared to the busy Oban. As the unofficial capital of the western Highlands Oban has plenty to occupy the visitor.
The 200 year old Oban distillery is right in the town centre. There are two cathedrals though neither is particularly old. St. Johns Cathedral in the town’s main street hosts regular music recitals. As Oban is located with shoreline and hills nearby, it lends itself to plenty of outdoor activities. Charter companies offer boat trips around nearby islands and one could also signup for a kayak outing from the bay. There are also interesting walks in and around the town. Oban has always been a fishing village and nowadays it is dubbed seafood capital of Scotland and there are plenty of places to enjoy excellent fresh seafood. We spent our first day roaming in oban and the next day we set off to Isle of Mull and Isle of Iona, two very beautiful islands near Oban.
Isle of Mull is 40 minutes ferry crossing from Oban and is worth exploring two impressive castles nearby. Torosay is a Victorian mansion with extensive gardens and Duart castle, guarding the Sound of Mull. Mull’s western side is dotted with white beaches. You also get to see white tailed sea eagles and otters and it is a good place for a whale-watching trip. Once we got off the ferry, we drove around the Island covering not all, but most of the area. We could not cover the Northern part of the Island, Tobermory which is famous for its brightly coloured buildings. The kids television series Balamory was shot in Tobermory. We took another ferry to Isle of Iona, which is one of the smallest islands, but beautiful in all its sense.
Isle of Iona is an idyllic and enchanting island situated just a short ferry ride from Isle of Mull. It takes a bit of planning reaching Iona, as it involved a ferry ride from Oban to Isle of Mull and then a road trip to the Fionnphort where we take another ferry to Iona which takes just about 10 minutes.
Looking from the Mull’s southern corner, the tower of St. Margarates Cathedral. part of Iona Abbey dominates the skyline. The Abbey is the main tourist attraction in Iona. Cars are not allowed in the Island and the abbey is just fifteen minutes walk from the port.
The island is less populated with just about one hundred and twenty people. So, I guess everyone in the island would know each other! It is one of the most serene, tranquil places I have ever been to and we all left with a feeling of tranquillity. There is also a heritage centre on the island that reveals more about the historic past and culture. You can take ferries or boats to other islands nearby from there.
Coming to the recipe, this gorgeous recipe was baked to take over to our friends place when lot of friends were meeting up. I always wanted to bake this cake, but the amount of fat and sugar that went into the cake put me to a halt. I thought I will wait for the right occasion to bake, usually when the friends get together for dinner.
The dinner that day was planned late, so the cake also was baked at the last minute. And I blast cooled the cake by leaving it at the window sill, leaving the window open! I dint have time for the cake to cool down completely, so I frosted whilst the cake was still warm. As I started taking pictures, I noticed the frosting dribbling down slowly as the frosting started melting! I had to hurry taking pictures, but I think that oozing frosting added an extra chic to the cake that was simply great.
I had been rushing through out that day as we were running late for the dinner unlike usual and it was just halfway through our journey, that I remembered I had forgotten the cake at home! Aargh! After all the rushing, chaos and stress I left the mighty cake at home. It was a total disappointment as I knew I would be nibbling on the cake all day which I did and the whole point of splitting the calories between friends failed miserably. However, the husband and son enjoyed it much. Although, they had only reasonable amount of them, the rest being all eaten up by the sweet tooth monster, me.
The cake is really soft, flavourful and the cream cheese frosting makes the cake absolutely scrumptious. This is a massive cake, so you would too want to bake it for a time when you have a big gang coming over to your place. Or else if you have a sweet tooth family, make it for them. Enjoy.
Moist Carrot Cake with Cream cheese Frosting
Recipe : Allrecipes
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 1 hour
4 medium eggs
300ml vegetable oil
400g, 2 cups caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
250g, 1 ½ cups plain flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
350g, 2 large carrots, grated very fine
125g, 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tbsp grated zest of an orange
Cream Cheese Frosting:
125g butter, softened
250g cream cheese, softened
250g icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC, 160 ºC for Fan assisted oven. Grease and flour a 23cm/9 inch baking tin.
2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, caster sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla for couple of minutes using a wire whisk or a wooden spoon
3. In another bowl, sift in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add this to the wet mixture and fold well.
4. Stir in carrots, orange zest and fold in pecans. Pour into the prepared tin.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 45- 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
To Make the Cream cheese frosting: :
In a medium bowl, beat together butter and icing sugar until creamy. Gradually add in cream cheese and vanilla essence and beat until the mixture is creamy. Set aside until ready to frost. Once frosted, refrigerate the cake.
Spread evenly on the cake once the cake is completely cool. This is quite a stiff, spreadable frosting.
*Mine started melting as I frosted it on slightly warm cake.
1. While making frosting, butter should be silky soft and smooth. If not, the frosting will be grainy. Here, the butter is not soft even at room temperature, so I microwave for few seconds or until it is really soft. If at all your frosting goes lumpy from cold butter, heat it for a brief amount of time in microwave making sure it does not melt. Mix well.
2. I also place the cream cheese in few layers of kitchen towel to drain extra moisture in the cheese to make stiff frosting