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Monday, 10 March 2014

this IS the best carrot cake

go directly to the recipe

summary: We make the best Carrot Cake with so much cream cheese icing, it will make you sick; Happy Birthday, T! (click on image(s) to see larger views and more photos)

T’s birthday is in early January. We’re always so full from Christmas that he always defers his cake until later. The other day, he said, “Isn’t it time for my birthday cake?”

carrot cake As always, the kind of cake was left to him. I was surprised when he didn’t choose Black Forest cake and instead decreed that it would be carrot cake. Yes!! J’adore carrot cake!

It’s easy to make. And. It. Is. Delicious.

And good for you! Think of all the vitamins!

The practice of combining cheese, fruit, and nuts dates back to ancient times. These were often served at the end of a meal because they were thought to aid in digestion.

- Food Timeline: History Notes

Hmmm, do you think the ancients meant cream cheese? And if some vegetables are added, will it be even better for the digestion?

I don’t remember how it was that I tasted R’s cake all those years ago. But I do remember asking her for her recipe. She readily agreed and grabbing a pen and ripped a piece of paper out of a notebook and began to write it out. As now, she was on a major health kick, often using whole wheat flour and substituting honey for sugar.

carrot cake I still have the loose piece of paper that she wrote on. One side has the “not-so-decadent version” calling for whole wheat flour and frozen bananas and the other side has the “decadent version” that was her original recipe calling for evil plain flour and sugar. Guess which of these versions I have never made…. :lalala:

I’ve made this carrot cake on many occasions. And every time, just like that first time I tasted R’s carrot cake, everyone has exclaimed that it’s the best carrot cake they’ve ever tasted.

Forget the travesties that are sold in various restaurants and bakeries. R’s carrot cake is the real thing.

This time round, in my haste, I used all white sugar, rather than adding a half and half blend of white and dark brown sugar I normally do. For the fruit and nuts, I added even amounts of pecans, Thompson raisins and currants. As I stirred everything together, the batter seemed a little thick, so I grated in a little more carrot.

Also, please note that in spite of the fact that I have a pencilled note to use margarine rather than oil, it has been eons since we’ve even had margarine in the house. I used sunflower oil.

And speaking of sunflower oil, I was a little too liberal when I was oiling the pyrex dish. We haven’t had any paper towels for a while (Blynken the furry black fiend likes to unravel them and tear them to shreds) so I used my fingers to try to pull out the extra. But there was still a LOT of oil. Is this one of the reasons that this particular carrot cake was so spectacular?

Maybe. But we’ve talked about it and a carrot cake is really only as good as its icing. It has to be cream cheese icing too. With enough cream cheese that the icing has a bit of a tang.

I have altered R’s cream cheese icing recipe a little and it’s closer to the one that Elle (Feeding My Enthusiasms) described when she made her friend Lori’s cream cheese icing with Dorie Greenspan’s carrot cake.

Cream Cheese Icing
for so much cream cheese icing on an 8×8 cake, it will make you sick

  • 0.5 c salted butter, softened
  • 1 c cream cheese (with guar gum), softened
  • 2-3 Tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 0.5 c sifted icing sugar
  • scant ⅛ tsp good quality pure vanilla extract
  1. Cream butter, cream cheese and yoghurt together.
  2. Using the back of a wooden spoon, cream in some sifted icing sugar to blend well. Taste to decide if you need more icing sugar. Add vanilla, but only if you have really good vanilla. (We do, because our fabulous neighbour made some using vanilla beans and vodka.) If the icing seems too thick, add more yoghurt.
  3. Slather on cooled cake.

Notes

:: Soften the butter and cream cheese by leaving them overnight in the oven with only the light turned on. Remove them from their packages first….

:: We’ve often omitted the vanilla entirely and the icing has still been good. But the amount I added this time simply rounded out the icing. When I tasted it, I would not have been able to say that vanilla had been added but known that there was a certain something else there enhancing the flavour.

As T was savouring the last bite of cake on his plate, with the knowledge that there would still be cake left for the next night, he sighed happily. And then said, “When this is finished, will you make me another carrot cake?”

It really is awfully good. And I did make just half the recipe.

Yes. Of course! Life won’t feel complete if there’s half a recipe unmade….

carrot cake
 

Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake

- Jim Davis, Garfield’s Guide to Everything

C’mon Roger, let’s go home. I’ll bake you a carrot cake.

- Jessica Rabbit, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

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2 Comments for this IS the best carrot cake” »

  1. Comment by Sandie — 12 March 2014 @ 14:06 EDT

    this sounds SO delicious. It has been ages since I had carrot cake, it tends to fall off the radar until I have a bite and think “yea.. this is really good”. Thanks for having me think about it again…

    edit 14 March: Yes, indeed. It is very delicious, Sandie. It was so delicious that we decided to make another one. I used brown sugar and white sugar in it. I’m not sure that we noticed any difference. I hope your carrot cake turns out as well as ours! -Elizabeth

  2. Comment by MyKitchenInHalfCups — 17 March 2014 @ 18:21 EDT

    Oh yes I do believe in vegetables for dessert! and I also believe carrot cake with cream cheese icing is the very best way to go. You used white sugar … funny I gave that up long ago and just use all brown sugar.
    Happy Birthday to the boy! He’s smart.

    edit 18 March: All brown sugar, Tanna? Now there’s an idea! Next time. -Elizabeth

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