Recipe: Cinnamon carrot cake baked in my HaloChef

Over the last few weeks I’ve been experimenting with my new HaloChef. It’s an oven powered by halogen light that generates heat which combines with high air flow to cook. It’s a quicker, healthier (you don’t need to use oil) and more environmentally friendly way of cooking and produces great results.

You can use the HaloChef to roast, bake, grill and defrost, so it’s extremely versatile. I sometimes have issues when I’m baking – which I tend to blame on the fact that my oven isn’t in fact the temperature it says it is. I know, bad workmen and tools come to mind. So today I decided to try baking a cake with halogen power.

The cake came out so perfectly I’m going to be doing all my baking in my HaloChef from now on! I also loved the fact that as the oven is glass you can easily watch your cake’s progress.

If you don’t have a HaloChef you can bake it for 45 mins in a normal oven.

Special reader offer

You can find out more about the HaloChef which retails for £89.99 here. And exclusively for readers of you can get a discount of £6.99 by entering the code ECGCR3 when you buy. Go on, you know you need a HaloChef in your life.

Here’s my recipe for cinnamon carrot cake. And watch this space for more great ideas for cooking with halogen.

Cinnamon Carrot Cake

Tastily moist slices of carrot cake

The ingredients

3 large eggs

75g granulated sugar

200g grated carrots

Zest of 1 orange

Juice of half an orange

175g self-raising flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

The process

Set the HaloChef to 180C.

Oil the base and sides of a square cake tin and line it with baking parchment.

Beat the eggs. Add the oil and sugar and mix together. Stir in the grated carrots and orange rind.

Mix the flour, bicarb and cinnamon. Then mix all the ingredients together.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 30 minutes. It should feel firm when you press it in the centre with your finger.

Cool in the tin for 5 mins and then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

Perfect with your afternoon coffee!

The lovely cake straight out of the tin


The HaloChef is a funky scifi addition to our kitchen

The HaloChef is a quick and easy way to do your roast dinner

Recipe book review: Mountain Berries & Desert Spices

I’ve come to baking quite late in life and still find it quite miraculous! You mix wet and dry ingredients, stick them in the oven and hopefully end up with some delicious treat. Like magic!

Mountain Berries & Desert Spices by Sumayya Usmani offers a whole new range of baking opportunities as a journey through the sweet treats of Pakistan. Many and varied they are too. The book starts off with explanations of the exotic ingredients used and moves from delightful fruity dishes through puddings, biscuits, breads, pancakes, doughnuts, samosas, pastries.

The recipes are easy to follow and all the ingredients are readily available in the UK. If you can’t find them in the shops you will online. Here’s a beautiful recipe to tempt you.

And you can win your own copy of this marvellous book – I have two to give away. Find out how to enter below.

Cardamom and rose water marzipan lace

(Badam ki jail)

This Hyderabadi sweetmeat translates as ‘almond lace’ and the name conjures up visions of delicate white fairytale lace. It’s a festive sweet for celebrations and gifts. The art is in its making as the traditional methods are laborious and badam ki jail is always made in abundance. The mixture resembles marzipan, but it dries out quickly so you must work fast.

Preparation 30–40 minutes + overnight soaking

Cooking 10–15 minutes

Makes 8–10

The ingredients

1kg cups almonds with skin on

2 tsp rose water

1kg caster (superfine) sugar

4–6 cardamom pods, seeds removed and ground

Butter, for greasing

500g icing (confectioners’) sugar, for rolling

To decorate

Edible silver or gold leaf

15g ground pistachios

The instructions

Soak the almonds in a bowl of water overnight. The next day, the skins should come off effortlessly.

Place the almonds in a food processor with the rose water and grind until they are very fine and paste-like, then place in a heavy-based saucepan and add the caster sugar and ground cardamom. Cook over a very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens and leaves the sides of the pan. Transfer the mixture to a greased glass dish, cover with clingfilm and allow to cool to the touch.

Now form the mixture into 2 balls. Roll each ball out as thinly as possible, dusting both the board and the rolling pin liberally with icing sugar. Using a 5–7.5cm/2–3-inch cookie cutter (flower shape is best) cut out 16–20 shapes. Divide the shapes into two equal groups. On one of the groups, cover the surface of the biscuits with silver or gold leaf. Then using a tiny cookie cutter (such as hearts), make holes in the middle of each shape in the second group. Place these on top of the silver or gold leaf covered ones.

Dust with ground pistachios and serve or store in an airtight container for 2–4 days.

Recipe extracted from Mountain Berries and Desert Spice by Sumayya Usmani, published by Frances Lincoln, an imprint of The Quarto Group. 

I’m regularly delving into this amazing book. First I made these lovely little sweet puff pastry biscuits called Bakar khani. Very simple, made from puff pastry sprinkled with ground cardamom, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. Sweet, spicy exoticness.

Win a copy of Mountain Berries and Desert Spice

The prize

Two copies of Mountain Berries & Desert Spice by Sumayya Usmani worth £20 each.

How to enter

Answer the following question in the comment section of Eating Covent Garden.

What country is the inspiration behind Mountain Berries & Desert Spice?

A India

B Morocco

C Pakistan

D Iran

Terms and conditions

Competition only for residents of the UK.

Closing date for entry will be Sunday 2 July 2017 at midnight.

The winner will be chosen at random after the closing date.

The winner will be notified by email.

No cash alternatives to the prize will be offered. The prize is not transferable.

The editor’s decision is final.

Recipe: Deliciously simple cinnamon rolls

Okay, I know we’re well into January – I can feel this year whizzing by already – but I felt I had to share a simple recipe for some delicious little treats. I made them first thing in the morning over the Christmas period when I had friends staying. They woke up to a deliciously aromatic house and some tasty little pastries to tuck into. Cinnamon rolls make the perfect breakfast.

Sweet and crunchy cinnamon rolls for breakfast

Makes six cinnamon rolls with each sheet of pastry.

2 tbsps unsalted butter, melted

2 sheets of ready-made puff pastry

4 tbsps ground cinnamon

1 tsp brown sugar

4 tbsps raisins

4 tbsps chopped hazelnuts

Heat the oven to 200C. Brush the inside and bottom of a baking dish with half the melted butter.

Roll the puff pastry out on a chopping board and brush it with the other half of the butter.

Sprinkle the cinnamon, sugar, raisins and hazelnuts evenly over the dough.

Roll the dough up into a spiral.

Cut the dough into six equal pieces with a sharp knife.

Lay the pieces in the baking dish and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden and cooked through.

Of course you can tuck into your cinnamon rolls any time of day – and the perfect accompaniment is a cup of tea. Absolutely one of my favourite beverages (I have lived in England for over 30 years after all). And you can make your tea with style with the beautiful stove-top kettle from Kitchen Aid. My red one even matches my oven. Now we’re talking.

Find out more about Kitchen Aid’s fabulous selection of appliances and kitchenware products at

Distributing the delicious filling evenly with my Kitchen Aid kettle at the ready

All ready for rolling

Little spirals going into the oven

Recipe: The yummiest carrot and pineapple cake

So I love cooking, no surprise there…and I guess I’m getting pretty good at it – not to say there aren’t still culinary disasters in our house! But baking has never been a strength, I’ve managed to produce cakes that haven’t even risen enough to be described as frisbees! But as with everything, you’ve gotta keep trying and I’m pleased to announce that I think my baking has turned a corner down the road to success!

I love carrot cake and as I’d inadvertently managed to buy a whole load of eggs (I know, memory issues, didn’ realise there were already a dozen in the cupboard), I thought it would be a good way to use up some of the excess. So I scoured the internet and checked out a range of recipes before coming up with my own version.

This cake comes out beautifully moist inside, which it should with all the delightful goodies it’s made from. I made the topping using cream cheese so it isn’t too sweet, and only spread it thinly. You don’t need a lot as the cake is packed with flavour.


A totally tempting carrot cake

2 cups plain flour

1 cup white sugar

1 tsp baking powder

2 tsps ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 eggs

1.5 cups sunflower oil

2 cups grated carrots

2 tsps vanilla extract

1 425g can crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup dessicated coconut

1 cup chopped walnuts

For the topping

200g cream cheese

2 tsps vanilla extract

1 tbsp icing sugar

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Add the eggs, oil, carrots and vanilla. Mix with a hand mixer until well blended.

Add the pineapple, coconut and half of the walnuts. Stir together.

Grease a 2lb loaf tin and pour the mixture in.

Bake at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool.

Run a knife around the edges and slide the cake out of the tin.

Mix the ingredients for the topping together, spread on top, add leftover walnuts and it’s ready to eat. And you’re gonna love it.

Do you have a favourite cake recipe for me to try? Do let me know, I’m feeling the love for this baking thing now!

carrot cake

Check out the succulent centre


Straight out of the tin and ready for the topping…doesn’t that look good!

Candy’s fabulous lemon drizzle cake

My niece Maxine spent the day with me on Sunday. I always treasure these days as we have so much fun together, and today we decided to make a cake for Terry – his birthday was the next day. My friend Candy had sent me her recipe for lemon drizzle cake which I love so we decided to give it a go.

The recipe is so easy to make and tastes absolutely delicious. Maxi chose blue sprinkles to add a special birthday touch.

Delicious cake straight out of the oven

Delicious cake straight out of the oven

For the cake

1 ½  Cups all-purpose flour

2 Teaspoons baking powder

½  Teaspoon salt

1 Cup plain yoghurt

1 1/3 Cups sugar

3 Eggs

2 Teaspoons grated lemon zest

½ Teaspoon vanilla extract/essence

½ Cup Vegetable oil

1/3 Cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the glaze

1 Cup Icing sugar

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a loaf tin.  Line the bottom with parchment/baking paper and butter and flour the entire pan.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a medium bowl.  In a large bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, 1 Cup of the sugar, eggs, lemon zest and vanilla essence.  Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet, whisking to combine.  Use a rubber spatula to fold in the vegetable oil into the batter until it’s fully incorporated.  Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes, or until a cake tester stuck in the centre of the loaf comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, combine the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear.  Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing it and placing it on a baking sheet.  Use a cake tester, wooden skewer or toothpick to carefully pierce holes throughout the cake.  While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.  Cool completely.

In a small bowl, combine the icing sugar and lemon juice, whisking to form a smooth glaze.  Pour over the cake.

Blue birthday sprinkles

Blue birthday sprinkles

Thank you Candy for sharing this wonderful recipe with me. It’s definitely going to be baked regularly in my household!

The Cook with Biltong Club: Cheese and biltong scones

So it’s been a while since I got creative with my favourite ingredient – biltong. What can I say, it’s been a hectic summer with amazing travel and work. I think my kitchen is feeling a little neglected. But don’t worry I’m back on track now and starting off with these lovely, simple cheese scones which I’ve added little bits of biltong to for a special touch. They taste amazingly delicious, simply cut in half, spread generously with butter and enjoy.

Straight out the oven, ready to go

Straight out the oven, ready to go

500ml flour

3 tsp baking powder

250g strong cheddar, grated

3 tsp sunflower oil

125ml milk

1 egg

2 handfuls wet biltong, finely chopped

Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and mix the cheese and chopped biltong through the flour mixture.

Beat the egg and milk together in a separate bowl and add the sunflower oil. Pour this mixture into the flour and mix it until it starts sticking together and is not too dry.

Place the dough on a flat, floured board until it is about 5mm thick, then keep folding it over and flattening it again using the palm of your hand.

Cut out the scones using a round cutter. Place them on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until they’re browned

My oven was playing up a little the day I made these so they came out a bit more browned than I would have liked, but they give you the general idea – and they did still taste delicious. I couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you – the biltong certainly adds something, both in taste and texture.
Join our club

I’m regularly going to post a new recipe using biltong, so watch this space.

And if you want to order some yourself, I highly recommend the Chichester Biltong Company where you can choose the wetness and fattiness of your biltong too (it’s very personal, you know).

Go to and enter the code EATINGCOVENT when you order.

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