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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Carrot Cake


I had never tasted carrot cake until I started teaching.  I was invited to dinner at Donna and Jim's place and it was served for dessert.  Oh my, I had never tasted anything so good.  So a few years later, when I was making wedding plans, I decided carrot cake would make the perfect wedding cake.  So, as you can imagine, this cake has great sentimental value in my recipe box.  Unfortunately, I don't have one single picture of the finished cake.  The best I can do is post a picture of Don and me eating the cake at our wedding reception.  

Look how young Don looks.  
No wonder his mother cried through the whole wedding ceremony!

It was a beautiful cake, as far as I can remember.  It was a three tiered square cake divided with little wine glasses for the pillars.  Each inverted glass held a yellow rose bud (I think) or maybe a daisy.  Between the layers were fresh daisies and greenery that matched the bridesmaids' bouquets.  The top of the cake was a bell with a cherub and a bit of tulle.  I still have the top, yellowed with age, and looking like it's a family heirloom from about 200 years ago.  

My mother was a little taken back when I announced I was having a carrot cake for my wedding cake.  At that time it was still very traditional to have a fruit cake covered in almond paste and decorated with royal icing. I guess a carrot cake seemed almost radical.  My aunt, who had made several wedding cakes in her time, announced it was nothing more than a spice cake with a few carrots thrown in.  I was not to be put off, so carrot cake it was.  

I borrowed a set of wedding cake pans from Mrs. Diamond, one of the church ladies, and got to work.  I can't remember how many times I made the recipe to achieve three tiers but it must have been at least five or six times.  I had never formally decorated a cupcake, let alone a wedding cake, but I had watched the baker and head cook at college do it many times.  I bought a cake decorating kit, a box of paste colours and a cake decorating magazine.  What more did I need? After I frosted the cake, I did a simple border around the top and bottom of each layer and let the fresh flowers finish the decorating.  I seem to remember doing swags around the sides but that might be more my memory digging up another cake at another time.  

The cake was made and iced in plenty of time but I was still putting finishing touches on the decorations about an hour before the wedding because I had to wait for the flowers to be delivered!  Needless to say, I was a little late for the church that day. 

The original title of the recipe was "Carrot Cake with Fruit".  I copied the recipe from Donna's cookbook, but can't remember what the name of the book was.  I have since lost the recipe card but fortunately the school where I taught published a fundraiser cookbook and I had submitted this recipe so it was not lost. 

Wedding Carrot Cake
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I added this ingredient years after)
2 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
¾ cup oil
¾ cup buttermilk or soured milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups grated raw carrot, about 3 medium carrots
1 cup coconut, medium grind
1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9x13-inch pan or three 8-inch layer pans by greasing and lining with waxed or parchment paper if the cake is to be removed from pan.  

Drain pineapple, grate carrots, measure coconut and chop nuts.  Lay aside.

Into a large bowl, sift dry ingredients together, including 1 cup of the sugar.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, vanilla and the remaining 1 cup of sugar.  Add the wet ingredient to the dry ingredients mixing well to combine.   Blend the prepared carrots, fruit and nuts into batter.  Pour into greased 9x13-inch pan or three 8-inch pans.  

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven, 55 minutes for 9x13-inch pan and 40-45 minutes for the 8-inch pans. 

You may serve this cake directly from the pan but if you are going to remove it, let cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out on a cooling rack.

Frost with your favourite cream cheese icing.   


Grate the carrots and set aside.  Drain the pineapple and also chop the nuts and measure out the coconut. 


Mix the dry ingredients together, including 1 cup of the sugar. Make sure everything is well combined.  
Do you see my new measuring cups in the top left-hand picture?

The next step is to combine the wet ingredients together.  Beat the eggs, oil 1 cup of sugar, vanilla and buttermilk together.  Add this to the dry ingredients.  Don't worry if you can't get buttermilk.  Use soured milk instead.  Just add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to a cup measure and fill with milk.  It will curdle and sour in a couple of minutes.


Mix the dry and wet ingredients until smooth.  You shouldn't be able to see any streaks of flour.  It should be smooth like the picture on the right.

Add the prepared carrots, nuts, coconut and drained pineapple to the cake batter.  Mix until everything is well distributed.

This cake makes a 9x13-inch cake but it can also be baked in three 8-inch pans.  Today I chose to use two round pans and one square pan.  I'll be taking the square cake to a church potluck and I'll freeze the two round layers and decorate them at Easter.  Stay tuned to see the Easter cake next month.


The cakes are cooling on the rack.  The round cakes were baked first so they are actually cool so I put one on the plate I'll be using at Easter.  I'll separate the layers with a sheet of plastic wrap so they won't stick together when the cake is thawed.  Can't wait to see the round cake decorated. 


Cream Cheese Frosting
1- 250 gram (8 oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup butter, room temperature
2 cups icing sugar, sifted if lumpy
1 teaspoon vanilla

In mixer bowl, combine cream cheese and butter.  Beat until well combined.  Add icing sugar.  Combine on low speed.  Increase speed and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla and mix until combined.  If frosting seems too thin add a little more icing sugar. 

This is enough to frost the top and sides of a 9"x13" cake or enough to fill and frost two 8" or 9" layers.


You can decorate a Carrot Cake by adding little Cream Cheese Frosting carrots to the top of the cake.  Colour about ⅓ cup of frosting orange and a couple of tablespoons green for the tops. 



Use an piping bag or a sandwich or freezer bag to make the "carrots".  If using a plastic bag, fill the corner with icing and then snip off the end.  Squeeze out the icing and pull to a point to make a carrot shape.  If you gently jiggle your hand while piping the frosting the "carrots" will look a little more real looking.

Ready for the potluck. 
Can you guess what kind of cake I'm bringing?




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