This is a very special post for me. Why? Because I'm a sentimental sap, if ever I've been anything, and as clumsy as I am cheap. Read right to the end of the post and see why *sigh*.......

Who's afraid of a little carrot cake?  Well...uh, I am. I bake a mean chocolate and beetroot cake and will happily gobble it, but show me a carrot, and I blanch like a sheet. There's just no accounting for taste and terrors. I like them well enough raw, as a crunchy snack or coarsely grated into salads. Cooked though, they instantly lose any appeal they might have held for me. I think it's their unrestrained sweetness or the completely yielding nature they acquire, once they lose their delightful crunch. 

The idea of carrot cake actually appeals - pecans (yum), carrots (uh, hmm... yikes) cinnamon (yum), cream cheese (yum), but I've always thought it to be a little crowded, with too much going on in the same cake.

For this version, I removed all the things I thought were distractions to what in my opinion a carrot cake should be - moist, sweetly spiced, richly textured with carrot shreds and pecan chunks and...well, actually that's pretty much it. I added chocolate which always eases and pushes things along nicely and replaced the traditional cream cheese frosting with a lighter yoghurt and icing sugar glaze. These little babies are egg free - I avoid it wherever possible for my mum's sake and use the smallest amount of butter I can get away with.

This was my first attempt at anything even remotely resembling carrot cake, which has always been viewed with hostility by my entire family. Apples definitely fall close to the tree and far from the carrot patch. The 25 pieces vanished within 4 hours and no, of course I didn't tell anyone it was carrot cake; I know the chocolate chips were a huge factor but I really have to tell you that I LOVED this enough to want to try it without chocolate next time. Woohoo!! Look Ma - no chocolate chip safety net ;)

Next on my list, blue cheese *eck*

Prep 15 mins        Cook 20 mins        Makes 25 small squares

300 g (3 cups) flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
70 g (scant 1/2 cup) sugar
1 tsp mixed cake spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
75 gm (1/2 cup) firm butter
1 medium carrot (about 150 g) peeled and finely grated
60 g (2/3 cup) chopped or broken pecan nuts
100 g (1 cup) mini dark choc chips
140 ml (2/3 cup) buttermilk or thin yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract


4 generous Tbsp sifted icing sugar
2 tsp thick plain yogurt


Preheat oven at 200 C (400 F) and lightly grease a baking tray or line with parchment or non-stick baking paper.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and spices in a large mixing bowl and stir well with a whisk.

Add the butter and carrots and cut both into the flour very quickly with a pastry cutter until coarse crumbs stage. Lighty stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

Combine yogurt and vanilla and pour into flour, nut and chocolate mixture. Push everything together with a spatula until a dough forms. Push any dry bits into the ball of dough to incorporate but avoid kneading.

Turn out onto work surface and pat into an even square about 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick. Cut into 25 equal squares. Transfer onto baking tray, putting the squares very close together and bake for 15 - 18 minutes or until golden and well risen.

Remove from oven and transfer cakes to a cooling rack. When cool, combine icing ingredients in a bowl and stir with a whisk until smooth. Dip the top of each cake into the icing, shake off excess and return to rack to set, with a large plate underneath to catch any drips.

Allow icing to set and serve with coffee or tea. Enjoy!

*Ahem* Now that the cakes are done with, I want to show you a few pieces from  my kitchen collection, procured from a lifetime of trawling second hand shops, Salvation Army outlets and church sales. Behold :


Oriental 50s style dragon design espresso set, unbranded - 5 cups, 5 saucers, coffee pot, creamer jug and sugar bowl. Mint condition, in original packing. Price : SGD 10.00 from Salvation Army. I'm just showing the cup and saucer as they're my favourite pieces out of the whole set.


Floral green and white Jade design by Broadhurst and Sons, Staffordshire, England, period unknown - 3 cups, 3 saucers. Excellent condition with hairline cracks in glaze. Price : SGD 2.00 from Cash Converters.


Vereco, France, glass cups, period unknown. Amethyst set - 2 cups, 2 saucers. Mint condition. Price : SGD 2.00 from church sale. Brown embossed daisy set - 4 cups. Mint condition. Price : SGD 2.00 from Cash Converters.


Contemporary creamer jug and sugar bowl set by Multiple Choice. Mint condition. Price : SGD 0.50 each from Robinson's warehouse sale.


Vintage commemorative Coca-Cola tinplate serving tray with ballerina design.Very slightly rusted at edges. Otherwise good condition. Period unknown. Price SGD 0.50 from church sale.

I've said before I'm cheap and unapologetic about it. Now you know just how cheap! But there's a reason for it and the reason is this :

Ashdene fine bone china Lotus design cup and saucer set. Purchased brand new at Tang's. Price SGD 29.95. Yes, the very same cup used to prop the carrot cake in today's post.

I dropped it this morning when making breakfast for my boys and hubby. Little did I suspect when I was shooting the pictures for today's post two days ago, that my favourite tea cup would suffer such a calamitous end *sob* Alright, so it wasn't that expensive, but it definitely hurts less when the cup costs fifty cents instead of thirty bucks. Well, actually....I'm not so sure now. I can't imagine losing my precious brown Vereco embossed daisy cup. It's dirt cheap, but where would I get another one? At least I can buy another Ashdene Lotus teacup from Orchard Road (I hope). I'd need a time machine to replace any one of my second hand beauties!

Hope you enjoyed that peek into my treasure chest of second hand charmers. I'm still far from done, as I haven't yet found the object of my second hand dreams - a Duralex Picardie tumbler *sigh* Now tell me, what is your  favourite kitchen treasure?