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Two-course Autumn brunch: Breakfast tart and mini carrot cakes

Chrissy Dupé

The weather (and the leaves) have turned, and it’s about this time of year when I start to crave those warm, delicious comfort foods. Well… even more than usual.

As you guys know, I’m hardly a traditionalist when it comes to what’s appropriate to eat in the A.M. I think that’s why I love brunch so much; because it gives you permission to eat pretty much anything at breakfast time.

We had friends over for Sunday brunch recently and I’d been having a serious hankering for carrot cake. Ummm, that works for brunch right?

I’d love to meet the genius who invented it. One of the most delicious cakes ever, and the main ingredient is a frickin’ vegetable. I mean, you can basically call it healthy. If you choose to ignore all that cream cheese and sugar. And as we all know, making them mini means you can totally feel better about eating them, cause you’re only having a few harmless little mouthfuls.

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To give the carrot cake a lovely hint of spice, I like to add cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of fresh grated ginger to the batter. I also add a good lug of canola oil for a really beautiful moist finish.

So you end up with the  crunchy texture of the walnuts against your teeth as you bite through a mountain of sweet, smooth and creamy cream cheese frosting and into a warm, slightly spiced, fluffy centre.

While serving just cake for breakfast is definitely not out of the question, I decided that these little cuties should probably be balanced with something a little more ‘breakfasty’.

And let’s face it, where there’s sweet there must be savoury. You need to be able to have a bite of everything. I mean, it’s not rocket surgery, Kim.

So I decided to make a tasty little two-course Sunday brunch.

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To balance out the sweet with some savoury, I settled on a vibrant and delicious Autumn breakfast tart, inspired by William Sonoma.

It’s got a beautiful, flakey puff pastry base (store-bought, obvs. Ain’t nobody got time to make it from scratch, even if it is the weekend), topped with a decadent layer of creme fraiche and Gruyere. I love the creamy, nuttiness of Gruyere. It goes so well with the bacon, eggs and chives.

I also added some asparagus, to give it some extra freshness. And I decided to baste the bacon slices with some maple syrup before frying them to make them extra crispy and add some sweetness and caramelisation.

For the asparagus, I trimmed the woody ends from about six spears, placed them into lightly boiling water for no more than about 30 seconds, then removed them and immersed them in ice-cold water, keeping the water running over them for a minute or two to stop the cooking process and prevent them from going limp.

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Then I dried them off with some paper towel and add scattered them around the tart, ready to bake. Remember to leave some space for the eggs themselves when you’re adding the bacon and asparagus!

And there you have it – a leisurely catch up with friends over a sweet and savoury two-course Autumn brunch: breakfast tart and mini carrot cakes. The perfect Sunday, really.

Mini carrot cakes recipe

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To prep: 20 mins
To cook: 12 mins
Serves: 12 mini cakes

Ingredients

For carrot cakes

2 eggs
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups grated carrot
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
big pinch of salt
2/3 cup canola oil
100g walnuts, finely chopped
50g walnuts, roughly chopped

For cream cheese frosting

125g cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups icing sugar
55g butter

Instructions

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Preheat the oven to 170C (fan-forced) and lightly grease a muffin tin.

Place the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

Combine the carrot and the oil in a separate bowl, then the flour mixture and stir ingredients together with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth batter.

Beat the eggs and stir into the mixture gently, folding in until just combined. Gently stir through the finely chopped walnuts, reserving the roughly chopped ones for sprinkling on top at the end.

Scoop the carrot cake batter into the muffin tin moulds, only filling about 3/4 of the way up so they don’t overflow when they rise in the oven.

Bake for around 12 minutes, then check by lightly touching the top with your finger. If they need a bit longer, continue for a few more minutes. Once they spring when they’re touched and are nice and golden in colour, they’re ready.

Remove from the oven and leave in the muffin tin to cool for around 5 minutes before gently turning the mini carrot cakes out on a wire rack to continue cool.

While they are cooling, make the frosting by using electric beaters to blend the cream cheese, vanilla extract and butter together until you have a smooth mixture. Then gradually beat in the icing sugar until the mixture is glossy and smooth.

Carefully fill a piping bag fitted with a wide, round piping nozzle with the frosting mixture, ready to pipe onto the mini carrot cakes.

Sprinkle mini carrot cakes with roughly chopped walnuts to garnish and serve.

Want a more ‘balanced’ diet? Subscribe to Little food blog to find out how to eat small and have it all.

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Chrissy Dupé

Chrissy is a lover of lists and a self-confessed control freak. Her mission is to help other women with a strong need to be in control learn how to harness the power of their inner control freak and use it for good. Having lived through the devastation that being control freak without focus brings, and going out the other side stronger, Chrissy developed a series of hands-on, zero 'fluff' programs to help women control their freak, instead of letting it run them into the ground. Her philosophy is based on the little-known fact that control freaks are actually born for greatness... and that without them, the world would fall into disorganised chaos. You can find out more at www.controlyourfreak.com. More about the Author