The wind blew and blew, like an Oscar Wilde children's story. Picking up the lid of the post box and letting it drop again, flattening my baby hedge and casting great gusts of yellow leaves to dance through the telegraph wires and off into the fields beyond.
We watched it all from our warm kitchen, enjoying the effects of all that insulation and attention to detail in the airtightness of our home. Inside, everything is muted, softened to a dull swish and thud. Opening the back door to empty compost, bought the full force of the noise outside to our startled ears.
So we settled down to poker and pottering, a few cups of rooibos and some gentle baking.
Just before evening drew in, we headed out for a run and returned damp and jubilant, cobwebs cleared and hungry for soup. For dessert, a dark, gingery slice of parkin, tucked up in a blanket of custard.
Ginger feels so right when the nights draw in, comfortingly warm and yet piquant with heat that reminds you this is spice. Parkin is a dark ginger cake with a moist, toothsome texture from the combination of treacle and oats. I wanted to make something oat free, so I've used grated carrots to give a succulent, open texture and blackstrap molasses for dark, sticky, nourishing sweetness. It would be great with some poached pears and a dollop of Greek Yogurt too.
Carrot & Ginger Parkin - serves 6
70g blackstrap molasses
50g dark muscovado sugar - or palm sugar
40g duck fat - or goose fat
2 large organic eggs
zest of 1 orange
100g ground almonds (almond flour in the US)
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder) or 1/2 tsp bicarb & 1 tsp vinegar
150g finely grated organic carrot
Line an 8inch / 20cm sandwich tin with a circle of baking parchment and set the oven to 160ºC
In a food processor, or with an electric whisk, beat together fats, sugar & molasses until creamy. Add bicarb now if you are using instead of baking powder - but not the vinegar!
Add eggs, ground almond, tapioca and spices. Blitz for a while, until thoroughly creamy and lighter in colour.
Add baking powder and blend well to incorporate, scraping down the sides. Add vinegar now if using this instead of baking powder.
Add carrots and pulse just enough to combine.
Scrape into the tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool in the tin and serve warm or room temperature. Eat within a couple of days.