AFTER an eternity of darkness and drizzle, the arrival of daffodils and daylight calls for a celebration; it’s high time to clear out the cobwebs, fill a jug with flowers and bake something beautiful.

One of the things I love about this time of year is how the first few ventures into the great outdoors feel like a great release.

After months of feeling a little cooped up, the raw blue skies and gusty days of April can provide exhilarating blasts of oxygen and some much needed vitamin D.

The intermittent rain can be frustrating but the budding landscape appreciates it, drinking up the damp and the warmth before as it prepares to blossom.

I like that, during the spring months, I can drink hot chocolate after a frosty walk one day, and pack up a picnic the next.

It’s not quite berry-season yet but the crumb is becoming lighter, and the flavours lively; this month I’m trying my hand at a spiced flat breads, toasting up a few jarful’s of sour-cherry granola and baking lemony cheesecake.

I have also dusted off a war-time classic and embraced the humble carrot cake.

Whether its intended as an Easter weekend centrepiece, or an excuse for a cup of tea and a chat, a cake needn’t be majestic to be impressive.

Despite its distinctly autumnal characteristics, namely root veg, nuts and spices, I’ve always associated carrot cake with spring time; something about its tearoom reputation and cloud of tangy frosting puts me in mind of crocuses, pastel colours and family gatherings.

This particular cake is dark and treacly, packed with walnuts and finished with just the right amount of cream cheese frosting.

It’s actually better, somehow moister, when left for a day or so after baking, so it’s wise to bake it the day before you want to eat it.

A generous slice makes a great addition to a rainy-day coffee date or a spring-time adventure.