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

Scandinavian delights at Nordic Bakery

Today I’m having an indulgent lunch at Nordic Bakery in Covent Garden. Being back in my favourite part of London always makes me smile. This is one of four establishments in London that sells a fabulous range of Nordic baked goods, like cinnamon buns, rye bread and cakes…and more.

They describe themselves as a beautiful Scandinavian cafe and peaceful meeting place in a frantic city. There are certainly many Scandinavian touches about the place (like the wood-clad walls) which exudes a sense of coolness and calm. I’m loving the Scandi vibe that’s popping up around London. This would certainly be the perfect place to visit in the middle of this amazing heatwave London’s having.

Service is welcoming and friendly and then you’ll discover  all manner of deliciousness to choose from.

Nordic Bakery Covent Garden

Welcome to Covent Garden’s Nordic Bakery

Cinnamon buns are a quintessential Scandinavian treat and these are among the best I’ve ever seen or tasted. They are made fresh on the premises throughout the day. Just looking at this picture makes my mouth water.

Nordic bakery: Cinnamon buns

Up close on the perfect cinnamon buns

As I was there around lunchtime I simply had to try some of the savoury delicacies. Like these open sandwiches. Gravadlax and cucumber or smoked salmon on traditional rye bread.

Nordic Bakery: Open sandwiches

Smoked salmon tastes amazing on rye bread

One of my favourite Nordic ingredients is herring. They have so many ways of preparing this wonderful fish – one I simply do not eat enough of. Here it is in a mild curry sauce served with hard boiled egg on that rye bread again. Such a great combination.

Nordic Bakery: open herring sandwich

You have to try the herring if you’re anywhere Nordic

The spinach and feta quiche was light and tasty with its melt-in-the-mouth pastry.

Nordic bakery: spinach and feta quiche

A slice of creamy, tasty quiche

Berries are a big part of Nordic cuisine – blueberries and lingonberries are perfect in these tasty buns.

Nordic Bakery: berry buns

Berry buns and more to choose from

Or how about pastries with an apple, almond or custard filling. See what I mean, there’s a lot of choices going on here.

Nordic Bakery: apple, almond and custard

More sweet flavours to savour

And here’s a sweet surprise. It’s called an oven pancake and is cooked in a baking tray. And although it doesn’t look like it, it certainly tastes like a pancake and was wonderful with their home-made berry jam. What a great idea – fuss-free pre-prepared pancakes without the stress. I’m going to be making these at home, that’s for sure.

Nordic bakery: Oven pancake

The surprising oven pancake with delicious berry jam

The great news is that even if you don’t live in London or can’t get to Covent Garden, there’s a fabulous recipe book. So you can get baking at home and fill your home with Scandinavian delights. Now doesn’t that sound good?

Time for some home-baked goods


Nordic Bakery is at 55 Neal Street, Seven Dials, Covent Garden, London.

Recipe: Orange and lemon polenta cake

Recipe: Orange and lemon polenta cake

I love baking – not that I do enough of it. Mix a few ingredients in a bowl, pour them into a tin and cook – and voila, you have something delicious on your plate. Okay, it doesn’t always work out quite that way – I’ve had my share of baking disasters. But I’m telling you that this is recipe is going to become a firm favourite. It has few ingredients, takes so little time to make and tastes spectacular.

Recipe: Orange and lemon polenta cake

The golden brown outside and a promise of the citrussy inside

It’s light, sweet and zesty. And the addition of polenta (which I have never used in a cake before) gives it a surprisingly pleasant crunchiness. Of course if you don’t have polenta you could just leave it out but I do think it adds a little something extra.

Recipe: Orange and lemon polenta cake

Deliciously moist slices of citrussy cake

The ingredients

175g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

50g polenta

225g castor sugar

225ml olive oil

4 eggs

Juice and zest of 1 orange

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

The instructions

Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas mark 3.

Mix the flour, baking powder, polenta and castor sugar in a bowl.

Make a hole in the middle and pour in the olive oil. Break the eggs into the olive oil.

Mix well using a wooden spoon until there are no lumps left.

Add the orange and lemon zest and juice and mix.

Grease a cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.

Drop the mixture into the tin, smoothing it into the corners.

Bake for 1 hour, then check to see if it’s cooked by inserting a skewer gently into the cake.

If it comes out clean your cake is ready.

Let it rest for 5 mins before moving to a wire rack and removing the paper.

Recipe: Orange and lemon polenta cake

The beautifully yellow and crumbly cake

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!