Procrastibaking – when there’s a pile of laundry to iron but you bake instead

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My sister tagged me in a post on Facebook to which I could only giggle as it is so very true. I have always enjoyed baking but only truly found my passion for it over the past few years. I think it came about when I started baking to fundraise for my daughter’s gymnastics competitions back in 2011. We had additional costs that year as we were travelling up to Auckland from Cambridge once a week for extensive training. I started out by baking one of the best biscuits I had ever tasted called Death by Chocolate biscuits. It is not an easy biscuit to bake compare to the ones I bake now, but they are devilish good. Rich, sweet, decadent and literally melt in the mouth.

Soon afterwards my husband bought me my first Nigella Lawson cookbook. I have made several of her desserts and baked goods but what I love the most about her books is the way she writes them. You might as well be having a one-on-one conversation with her. It’s personal, funny, witty, just like her.

Baking cakes only started in 2013 when I worked for a company where sharing your baking was considered the best thing since slice bread. At first I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes (the seasoned company bakers) so I didn’t bake anything for the first few months. It was only when we moved to our new premises in April 2014 and we lost more than 1/2 of our workforce that I brought my baking in. I baked traditional and fail proof cakes, muffins and biscuits at first. It was through the encouragement of my work mates that I started experimenting with flavours and cake combinations. Whatever I baked I took with to work. I baked for individual employees, whether it was to celebrate their birthday or send them off as a farewell. I felt great joy when I could share these baked goods with them. My most memorable cake was the Hummingbird Cake which I baked for the sales manager’s farewell. It was rustic and full of flavour and oh so pretty.

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Today I still mainly bake to share. I bake to give as gifts, to show love and empathy when friends loose a loved one, for my husband to share at work (expecially when the ladies ask for anything sweet with chocolate). One of those cakes was a traditional Black Forest Cherry Gateau. I baked it for my husband’s birthday so naturally he took it into work for everyone to share.

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I bake because I learn something new every time. I bake because I can’t think of anything more satisfying to do. I bake because nothing smells more divine than the aroma of freshly baked cookies. I bake because I owe it to myself to enjoy food.

Day 90 31 March – carrot fusion

As part of a fundraiser for the kids’ school, the PTA organises parental help to marshal at a local cycling event. The school receives $50 for every volunteer marshal. Now that is easy money! Seeing as I can’t provide my time I decided to rather bake for the cake stall the school is manning during the event. Again, easy money raised!

I found a recipe for small carrot cakes (carrot cupcakes) with a zingy cream cheese icing. It is a recipe from Nigella Lawson, one of my favourite female chefs. I love reading her cookbooks as it reads like a storybook. For those who have seen her on television you would have noticed how she speaks with great passion over the dishes she creates and that is exactly how she writes her cookbooks. It is filled with her wittiness and love for food.

This recipe was easy to put together and I enjoyed baking it more knowing it is going towards a good cause. The only change was setting the oven to 190C as our oven is a bit wonky and baking it for approximately 16 minutes instead of the full 20 minutes. What I like most about carrot cakes/muffins are the spice infusion! I often replace the cinnamon with a spice mixture of nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon.

There’s always a reason to bake!

Carrot Cakes with Cream Cheese Icing:

For the cupcakes
100g light muscovado Sugar (you can use soft brown sugar)
175 ml of sunflower oil
2 large eggs
225 g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
zest of 1/2 lemon
zest of 1/2 orange
2 medium carrots grated
scant 1/2 cup walnuts chopped 
12-cup muffin pan lined with 12 cupcake cases

For the icing
125g cream cheese
250g icing sugar sieved
1-2 tsp of lime juice
12 walut halves

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Beat sugar and oil together, then add the eggs one at a time. Add flour, baking bicarb soda, cinnamon, salt and zests, then fold in carrots and chopped walnuts. Spoon into the cupcake cases in the muffin tin and bake for 20 mins. Cool on a rack.

Beat the cream cheese until soft, beat in the icing sugar, then squeeze in the lime juice. Spread (or pipe) on the icing and place 1/2 a walnut half in the centre of each cupcake.