Carrot and Coriander Muffins

Another lunchbox delight here, in this case a reimagining of the traditional carrot and coriander soup into a bite size muffin. These include grated carrot, chopped fresh coriander and cumin, whilst chopped walnuts add some crunch to the muffin. These are best served warm on the day of baking, served with a good cheese, preferably Cheshire or Wensleydale. Bake and enjoy!

Carrot and Coriander Muffins

Carrot and Coriander Muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 175g carrots
  • 50g chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 150g plain flour
  • 100g wholemeal flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200ml milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 190C/fan170C/gas 5, and grease a 12-hole cupcake tray.

Coarsely grate the carrot and place in a large bowl, along with the chopped walnuts, cumin and coriander. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to this mixture and beat lightly until just mixed. Spoon into the cupcake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until firm and risen. Cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

The 7,000 Year Old Cake

In the first of our series of posts on the historical development of cake, we are looking at Ancient history, going back 7,000 years to find the original source of cake. Get your time-travelling shoes on, step in the Tardis or turn over your time-turner and we’ll head back 7,000 years to the Neolithic Era and this particular settlement.

Clegyr Boia ancient settlement - geograph.org....

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t look like that in the Neolithic Era, but here is a more modern reconstruction of what it might have been like.

English: Skara Brae, Neolithic settlement, Ork...

This particular settlement is Clegr Boia in the north of Scotland, and it was in a settlement similar to this that the first items of a cake-like nature were discovered. Now bearing in mind that there was no leavening agent around at the time (the stuff that enables cakes to rise), the cakes were very different to what we think of now. Examples found were made of whole grains, crushed and moistened before being shaped into cakes and cooked on a flat hot stone. Produced today, they would be called oatcakes, and far from being a sweet, fluffy treat they would be a crisp, oat biscuit to be eaten with cheese. Not what we might want, but considering the resources available to these primitive peoples, it’s fascinating to see the roots of our now-common cake.

Oatcakes 1

Next week, we will move forward some years to meet with the Ancient Egyptians and introduce you to the innovations that made modern cake-making possible, whilst getting ready to meet the competitors of the Great Ancient World’s Bake-Off – the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Meanwhile, here is a recipe for oatcakes, which whilst using modern techniques (such as an oven) will still help to give you a taste of the Neolithic Bakery.

oatcakes 2

Neolithic-Style Oatcakes

Ingredients:

  • 225g oats
  • 60g flour (wholewheat is more traditional but plain flour will do)
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 60g butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 60-80ml warm water

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 3. Mix together all the dry ingredients before adding the butter in pieces to create the texture of coarse breadcrumbs. Add the water slowly until a thick dough is formed (this may take some or all the water, depending on the oats used – as long as it’s not too loose it should be fine). Sprinkle the work surface with oats and flour and roll out the mixture to a thickness of about 0.5 cm. Cut out the oatcakes using either a cutter or using a sharp knife and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and firm.

Serve with cheese or pate.

[It seems very different from our idea of cake, but it is worth remembering the alternative meaning of the word cake – a firm, compacted mass, such as a cake of soap. Whilst meanings can change, the roots are still there.]

Wales: Leek and Caerphilly Cake

Flag of Wales

For the Welsh cake, I decided to take inspiration from two central foci of Welsh Cuisine – the leek (itself a national symbol), and Caerphilly cheese, intrinsic to the aforenamed Welsh town. In contrast to many of the other cakes in this project I decided to create a savoury cake, rather than trying to force connections with more disparate. Though the idea of a savoury cake is rather curious in England, the idea is not new, having been found in many other cultures for centuries. This particular cake is excellent served either on its own, or as an accompaniment to a bowl of soup.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The cake keeps well in an airtight box, though should be eaten within 4-5 days. After this point the cheese smell can become rather overpowering (though surprisingly this is not tasted in the cake!)

Leek and Caerphilly Cake

Ingredients:

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 100g caerphilly cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 120ml milk
  • 50ml olive oil

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. Grease a loaf tin and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the flour, leek, cheese and pepper and mix well. Mix the milk, egg and olive oil in a separate bowl, and the mix into the dry ingredients. Spoon into the moulds and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.