carrot cakeFor us, coffee and cake is our favourite treat to get us through the cold winter months so we asked Jane Lamberth at Shells Cafe in Strandhill for her tips on making good coffee and her favourite treat to go with it.

Not so long ago coffee was seen as a bit of an indulgence, but increasingly in Ireland it is becoming an essential. Loads of customers in Shells Cafe want advice on making coffee at home. Whatever method you choose, it’s a lovely process to make it and a nice break to your day.

When making coffee at home it’s all about the grind and the freshness of the coffee. The easiest and cheapest way to have great coffee is to use the simple French press. Use a slightly coarser grind than that for espresso machines. At Shells we always use a dark roast to get a good strong coffee flavour.

I also love that the French press will make two or three cups so when friends are around you can all kick back and enjoy together. You can also warm your hands on the cafetiere while it’s brewing! Perfect after a cold surf.

Don’t forget to keep good coffee in the fridge between uses and in a resealable back- freshness is key.”

The perfect companion to go with coffee is scrumptious cake, so we took one of Jane’s fave recipes from her cookbook Surf Cafe Living  which is a sure fire winner!

Carrot cake

The big double-decker carrot cake

700g (3 cups) grated carrot

255g (2 cups) plain flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

6 eggs

175g (¾ cup) dark soft sugar

80g (½ cup) caster sugar

400ml (1¾ cups) vegetable oil

100g (⅔ cup) raisins

100g (¾ cup) walnuts

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Cream Cheese Icing

300g (1⅓ cups) cream cheese

150g (⅔ cup) butter, at room temperature

100g (¾ cup) icing (powdered) sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat oven to 180C/350F.

Begin with whisking together the sugar, oil and cinnamon. Throw in the eggs to make a nice sloppy mix.

Add in the sifted flour and baking powder, folding in the carrots, raisins, walnuts and bicarbonate of soda.

Pour the cake mix into two round springform cake tins (the average size is 25 to 30cm). Don’t forget to butter or spray the cake tins to ensure they are non-stick.

Bake for around 40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean after inserting into the cake.

Turn them out onto wire racks and allow to cool.

To make the cream cheese icing beat the icing sugar and butter for a very long time – the longer the better. Then add in the cream cheese and vanilla essence and keep beating… Keep beating… You are looking for light and fluffy! Grab a dollop on your finger and take a good lick.

Next pick a beautiful plate, ice the cake and dig in. Serve with great coffee to a good group of friends.

This yummy Carrot Cake recipe is taken from Surf Cafe Living available at the SurfGirl Beach Boutique – get inspired by lots of other great recipes too!


Photos by Mike Searle