Stacie Stewart is a woman who can bake. Famed MasterChef finalist, owner of the Beehive Bakery, and currently on the judging panel for Food Glorious Food - Stacie knows cakes.
Currently running a two week Pop-Up Bakery at the legendary Fortnum & Mason, Stacie has let us in on her favourite baking recipes - starting with her skinny meringue carrot cake.
'Fancy a cake that contains no butter? Then this is the one for you. Even the meringue frosting is fat-free,' said Stacie. 'This cake dates back to medieval times, when sugar was scarce and carrots (which contain lots of natural sweetness) were used instead. I eat this throughout the year, not just when I'm watching the calories; it's that good.'
Skinny carrot meringue cake
Makes 1 x 20cm/8in round cake
200ml/7fl oz vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
300g/10½oz/1½ cups soft light brown sugar
600g/1lb 5oz carrots, scrubbed and grated
280g/10oz/2¼ cups self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice (pumpkin pie spice)
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
150g/5½oz/scant 1 cup dried fruits, such as cherries, sultanas (golden raisins), raisins (optional)
150g/5½oz/1¼ cups nuts, such as pecans or walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Orange-blossom honey, to serve
6 egg whites
300g/10½oz/1½ cups caster (superfine) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease 2 x 20cm/8in diameter cake tins and line with baking parchment.
Put the oil, eggs and sugar into a bowl and beat together. Add the carrots and beat until incorporated.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large bowl. Add the orange zest, dried fruits and nuts and stir to coat them in the flour; this will prevent them from sinking in the cake.
Add the flour mixture to the carrot mixture in 3 batches, stirring gently after each addition. Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
To make the frosting, place a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Add the egg whites and sugar and beat with an electric hand whisk until stiff peaks form; this should take about 6 minutes.
Remove from the heat, add the vanilla and give it a final few seconds beating. Your frosting will be thick and shiny and must be used right away.
Place the first cake on a cake board or plate and spread over the meringue frosting – not too much, or it will be pushed out of the sides.
Stack the next cake layer on top. Now cover the outside of the cake; I use a palette knife and swipe the frosting up and around the sides, and I think this cake looks better when the frosting isn't smooth. If you're feeling really adventurous, blast the top gently with a blowtorch for a toasted marshmallow effect. Drizzle with a little honey to serve.
The cake keeps in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Recipe from Stacie Bakes: Classic Cakes and Bakes for the Thoroughly Modern Cook, published by Pavilion on March 7 2013, £18.99 hardback
For more information on Stacie's pop-up bakery and masterclasses, visit fortnumandmason.com
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