Sorry it’s been so long. I really wonder how I can be working half the time I used to, and still have less time available for things like our fun blog. But, whatever…
So, my guy’s birthday was a few days ago. He loves carrot cake, so that’s what I made him.
Lately, my pancakes and waffles have been a bit flat. I kept blaming the cheap flour I was forced to buy during the flour shortage last year. But it finally occurred to me that I should check my baking powder. The date said it was good through Feb 2022, so I had no reason to suspect it. I wanted to make sure that it was good before I made my guy’s birthday cake. And sure enough, it was dead as a door nail. (Wonder why death is compared to door nails…)
I rushed back into town to buy a new can of baking powder. Joke’s on me though – my carrot cake recipe doesn’t use baking powder – just baking soda! Oh well, my next batch of pancakes should be bake to their normal light and fluffy texture.
I have this old cookbook – I think I got it from a cookbook of the month club back when I was in college. And honestly, I’ve never made anything out of this book that isn’t good. The carrot cake, cheesecake and baklava are top notch. But of course, after that many years, it’s impossible to imagine that I haven’t tweaked the recipe a bit – mostly adding weight measurements, and decreasing the oil and sugar a bit.
I love this cake recipe, because I don’t have to pull out the mixer. But I do have to use the food processor to shred the carrots, so there is that… But if I’m going to have to use the processor, I’m going to maximize it. I shred the carrots, then chop the pecans, give it a quick wipe or rinse, and then use it to make the frosting.
Tangent alert – My sister has been telling me that I need to get a set of cake strips to make my cakes rise more evenly. I haven’t gotten around to getting any, so I found this make do version, and thought I’d try it to see if it really makes a difference. And then, because I can obviously eyeball how much foil I need to go around my pans, and in reality I can’t, I ended up wrapping only one pan. No biggie, now I can really compare how well they work! Yeah, I meant to do that! As the cakes were on the cooling racks, Mom walked by and commented “one of your cakes rose more than the other,” so it is noticeable. And they really did rise the same amount, just one was more level.
So, here is my Carrot Cake recipe:
- 15 ounces flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup TOASTED chopped pecans – about 4 ounces
Whisk the dry ingredients together until well blended. Might as well go ahead and preheat the oven (325) and grease up a pan. I use Baker’s Joy, or equivalent.
- 4 eggs, beaten a little
- 1 cup oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups packed carrots – around 5, or 8-9 ounces
- 1 cup apple sauce
In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until well blended. Once the oven is good and hot, add the wet to the dry ingredients and gently stir just until combined. Put in the pan(s), and bake until a toothpick comes out clean.
Thoughts about different pans:
- A 9×13 is easy, takes about 45 minutes to bake.
- This will make about 36 cupcakes, so you might want to cut it in half. Unless you’re feeding a crowd.
- A 2 layer cake seems fancier, so that’s what I usually do for a birthday – because I love people enough to do a little extra work. Needs about 30-35 minutes to bake.
The cream cheese frosting is the most important part of a carrot cake. But in general, I think most frostings are too sweet, and Mom really thinks they are all too sweet. But you have to keep adding powdered sugar until it’s thick enough to use and that’s too much. So I adapted this recipe to use less sugar, and have more cream cheese flavor by leaving out the lemon juice completely. That’s sad, because I’m sure the lemon juice would add a nice tang. But I don’t care, it works for me.
- 1 1/2 blocks cream cheese
- 1 stick of butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste – maybe less if it’s extract, or be prepared to add more sugar
Throw in the food processor and blend until smooth. Since you’re using the food processor, it really doesn’t matter if it’s at room temp. It will beat it into submission.
- 2-3 cups powdered sugar, or as much as you need to get the texture you want.
Slowly add and blend the sugar, testing after each half cup for thickness. This made enough to frost my layer cake, but not enough to decorate it. Oh well. Next time I’ll add 2 blocks of cream cheese.
I must confess, I forgot to set the timer when I put this in the oven. When I remembered, it was done, and I was hoping not too done. Alas, it was a bit dry. It was also kinda dense, which is somewhat normal for carrot cake, but I thought this was too dense. Guess I should have added some of that baking powder, after all.