After thinking, reading and talking about having bees for years we finally collected our first hive from Dad, who has kept bees for just over 40 years. He started with one hive in our suburban backyard in about 1980, peaking at 35 hives on small acreage, and is now back to a couple of hives. Our new hive is happily placed near our vegetable garden and fruit trees. Dad estimates we have added about 5,000 head of livestock to our property. The bees have been happily working the brassicas, poppies, acers and plums. We're so excited to add this new element to our block and imagine the bees bringing environmental benefits to our neighbours' gardens, as well as beautiful local honey. If you are wondering how you transport a beehive? We waited until dusk when the bees return to the hive for the night, Dad calmed the hive with his smoker, then we fastened the hive so the base and cover wouldn't shift, lifted it onto shade cloth, wrapped it, and secured it onto the tray of the Land Rover. When we arrived home close to midnight we cautiously moved the bees off the ute tray and into their position in the garden. We did have a little fun earlier in the day suggesting we'd place the hive between the boys on the back seat.
It will be a while before we harvest our own honey. Meanwhile, we purchase bulk honey for the shop from local beekeepers in neighbouring Ogunbil Valley. Looking to bake with honey I came across Belinda Jeffrey's recipe for Spicy Carrot, Honey and Pecan Cake
. It's a delicious combination of flavours and textures and is topped with everyone's favourite cream cheese icing. Belinda's new book 'A Year of Sundays'
, a collection of her Sunday Posts on Instagram, comes out next week, November 4.
Belinda Jeffrey's Spicy Carrot, Honey and Pecan Cake
Makes one medium cake
What you need: 1 cup (150g) plain flour, 1 1/2 cups (240g) wholemeal plain flour, 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 100g pecans, roasted and coarsely chopped, 40g finely sliced glacé ginger, 80g raisins, about 600g carrots, 1 cup (360g) honey, finely grated zest of 1 orange, 90ml freshly-squeezed orange juice, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/4 cup (60ml) light olive oil, 1/2 cup (125g) crushed pineapple in natural juice. Honey and cream cheese icing (optional): 250g cream cheese, 1/4 cup (90g) clear honey, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, toasted flaked coconut, to decorate.
What you do: Preheat oven to 180C. Butter or oil a 20cm square non-stick cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper. Combine plain flour, wholemeal flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg in a large bowl. Use a balloon whisk to mix for one minute. Add the pecans, ginger and raisins and toss to coat in the flour mixture.
Trim, peel then grate the carrots, chopping after grating for a finer finish. Tip two cups of firmly packed grated carrot into a large bowl.
Warm honey gently until it is runny. Pour into a bowl and stir in the orange zest and juice, vanilla extract, oil and crushed pineapple (mainly the flesh with just a little juice). Pour mixture over carrots, and mix everything together. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and stir until well combined. Scrape the stiff batter into the prepared tin and smooth the surface with a palette knife.
Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then gently turn it out onto the rack to cool completely.
Combine the cream cheese ingredients until smooth and creamy. Store the icing and keep it cool until you’re ready to ice the cake.
Before serving, transfer the cake to a serving plate and "swoosh the icing with long, lazy strokes over the top" (don't you love Belinda's description), and, if using, sprinkle with coconut flakes.
Alternative topping: Stud the surface of the batter with diagonal rows of pecan halves before placing the cake in the oven.
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