Food Festival Fun

The Great British Food Festival is taking place at Harewood House this weekend and I thought it might be fun to enter a spring-themed cake. So, after much deliberation, I opted for a carrot cake with a light honey and orange buttercream.

For the cake, I used Felicity Cloake's perfect carrot cake as my recipe, though I amended the measurements slightly so that I could use two 20cm tins instead of 18cm ones. I also changed a few other ingredients, just based on my own preferences! Who really wants sultanas in a carrot cake?

The ingredients I used were:

200g melted unsalted butter
200g soft dark brown sugar
4 free-range eggs
270g self-raising flour
1.3 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
A pinch of salt
1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
0.5 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon orange extract
270g grated carrots
200g walnuts

I started by whisking the melted butter, sugar, and eggs until the mix had doubled in size.

After sifting all of the dry ingredients together (excluding carrots and walnuts), I folded them into the wet ingredients, taking care not to beat too much air out. I then carefully added the carrots and walnuts, mixing until just combined, before splitting the batter between two cake tins and baking at 180 degrees for 35 minutes.

For the buttercream, I mixed together 500g unsalted butter, 1kg icing sugar, the zest of one large orange, a teaspoon of orange extract, and 2 tablespoons of runny honey, and beat everything together for a long time (seriously, about 30 minutes) until as light and fluffy as was physically possible. Thank goodness for food mixers!

When the cakes were cooling, it was an ideal time to start on my spring-themed fondant decorations, so I started as always by setting up my workstation. It's so much easier to get stuck in when you have everything to hand!

I started by making the bees (an essential for honey buttercream), which are incredibly easy to make. All that's needed is to gently roll yellow and black strips of fondant together, then use an edible ink pen to dot on some eyes and added a couple of white wings. Continue until you have a swarm:

Next, another easy job; carrots. Simply making a cone of orange fondant and adding a few lines with a toothpick makes these cute little veggies come to life. They're no good with hummus though:

Fondant bunnies weren't quite as simple to make as the bees and carrots, but as with all fondant work it was just about making the right shapes and adding them all together. The photos probably do a better job of showing how I did this than my words will!

I had to leave the rabbit heads and ears to set for a while before putting them together, but once firmer I used toothpicks to assemble them securely. So, during my wait, I made lots of flowers using plunge cutters (plus a few roses by hand) just to dot all over the cake:

Once the cakes had fully cooled, I sliced both into two and piped buttercream between the layers. I then continued to pipe all around the assembled cake (using a large round piping nozzle) until it was entirely covered. Then it was just a case of adding the decorations as the finishing touches:

Keep your fingers crossed for me tomorrow... and preferably for some sunshine too!