I have deep love for Florence, so deep and gripping, like a teen girl’s infatuation that keeps getting more and more serious. Perhaps it has much to do with the Tuscan capital’s breathtaking landscape, amazingly delicious and honest meals, sound history… or maybe it’s just a combination of it all.
On a trip there on Winter 2008, I bought a spoon rest from one of the market’s vendor by the Medici Chapel. It is so beautiful and colorful and since then has been a permanent fixture in my tiny Tokyo apartment kitchen. There were some alternatives purchased after, even a cherry Le Creuset one on the basis that I’d like to give my Florentine spoon rest a break every now and then, but it kept on being the one that I used time and time again.
Looking at the spoon rest always transports me back to the outstanding dinner we had at Trattoria Vittoria, where I attempted (and succeeded!) to finish a massive lobster; walking the path towards Piazalle Michelangelo, overlooking the spread of Florence horizon; bargaining our way through the street market, the vivid Tuscan colors… so much! Fond memories! Firenze, amore mio!
So much so that my heart was massively broken when I mistakenly put the spoon rest too close to a flaming hot stove while cooking a batch of fresh pasta.
I turned around quickly wondering if anything on the stove was broken only to find my beautiful, darling, nostalgic spoon rest had broken. It broke. Hmmf.
Thankfully the cut looked quite clean that I decided that once and for all I should pull out a box of potentially fixable broken stuff that had been tucked away for some time since the Great East Japan Earthquake and begin gluing the pieces together and return them back to their glory again.
Where am I going with this story, I hear you ask?
Well, it all comes down to a cake. Icing on a cake, to be exact. A spectacular cake with a fantabulous icing, to be super exact.
You see, as I was puttering about the box of broken stuff with some super glue, I manage not only to somewhat fix them, but also to cover several of my finger tips with the wretched thing. You can tell by now that I’m not the most careful person in handling breakable things, and equally disastrous with the thing that is used to fix them. Well they don’t call it “super glue” for nothing. It sticks to your skin like a second skin and impossible to remove. Google to the rescue. I found 8 different ways on how to remove the thing here. Tried the nail polish remover, margarine and laundry detergent methods when finally it began to soften up, turning white looking like cake’s icing, and three days later it is completely off my finger tips.
During the first night of my super glue debacle, I was alternating between margarine and nail polish remover while watching Masterchef, I had an epiphany that I should make a cake that has nice thin icing, like the super glue on my finger tips. The cake must have courgette (that’s zucchini for you, my North American readers) and carrots (because I have too many of those in the fridge presently). Last but not least, it must have a nice icing so I have an excuse to use the recently located edible flowers. And Oh! Oh! This also means that I get to use my new cake stand!
Happy days. Cake was made. It taste every bit as beautiful as it looks. I posted the photos on Facebook, and it received the most “likes” in my entire history of uploading photos on it. Try it. You shan’t be sorry.
Carrot + Courgette + Orange Cake, with a little bit of icing
Recipe inspiration: BBC Good Food, adapted very liberally by MyOrangePot.
250 g butter, softened (from fridge then microwave for 1 minute)
200 g white sugar/ light brown sugar
3 large eggs (1 egg approximately 60 g)
250 g flour + 2.5 tsp baking powder + 0.5 tsp salt + 1 tsp baking soda, whisk together
2 oranges, zest
1/2 tsp each of ground clove, cinnamon, ginger
100 g carrots , grated
100 g courgettes, grated
For the icing:
1 orange, zest and juice (use only about 2-3 Tbsp)
140 g frosting/icing sugar
Optional: Begonia edible flowers for decoration
a round cake tin, diameter ⌀ 20~23cm
- Prepare your oven if it takes a bit of time to heat up, and heat to 160C fan/180C /350F regular oven. If you are using the regular Japanese microwave confectionary oven like mine, then do 160C and set it to bake for 65 minutes. If you have a regular American oven, do 350F and bake for 55 minutes.
- Beat everything from butter down to ground ginger in a large bowl until the mixture is mixed and creamy. I use my KitchenAid mixer, starting with 2 and ending with 4 for a couple of minutes. You can use a hand mixer or use your muscles using the regular hand whisk, just make sure you beat everything until they’re mixed together evenly.
- Add the carrot and courgette, if using KitchenAid, then set it on 2 until everything mixed together. If not, use a wooden spoon and mix the shredded veggies together evenly. Careful not to overmix!
- Put the mixture in a round tin, bake in the oven for about 60 minutes or until the skewer comes out clean and the surface of the cake slightly springy. Cool.
- Make the icing just before you are about to frost the cake. Mix enough of the orange juice (about 2-3 Tbsp) with the frosting sugar to give a thick concoction, but drizzly. Careful not to dump all the juice all at once, rather do one Tbsp at a time.
- Drizzle the frosting mixture over the cakes. Scatter the orange zest and leave to set.
- Decorate with edible flowers (if using)