Friends, rabbits, countrymen, lend me your ears. Looking for a simple, hearty cake that kids and adults will actually eat? Want to shred a pound of carrots? The Practical Cook has just the recipe for you. This cake is fast, simple, helps guard against the sugar shock that comes with birthday parties, and stands up to slicing and dicing. Perfect for cut-up cakes and pans of all sizes.
Forgive the lack of pictures for now, more will be added once I make the cake later in the week.
Birthday Carrot Cake Recipe
Special thanks to Complicated Veggie for this one. She’s my go-to baker, and she didn’t fail me here. I have taken some liberties, and borrowed the basic cream cheese frosting from our friends at Cook’s Illustrated.
In a large bowl, mix the following dry ingredients:
2 cups flour (can sub up to 1 cup with whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or up to 1/2 cup almond meal)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (go easy if you use freshly grated and are serving kids, but do use freshly grated if you can)
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a small bowl, combine the following wet ingredients:
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar (feel free to reduce some, I’ve trimmed as much as 1/4 cup off of this)
1 cup oil (walnut works well, or sub up to 1/2 of it with the same amount of applesauce)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (recommend using a real vanilla bean here, half in the cake, half in the frosting)
Add the wet to the dry and beat 1 minute, with either a hand-held or stand mixer. My note says to “mix well, but don’t overmix.” Apparently I thought that was helpful enough to write down, so I’ll pass it on.
3 cups grated carrots (almost a whole pound, highly recommend using the fine blade on the food processor here)
1 cup chopped, toasted nuts (such as walnuts or pecans), optional
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 45 minutes, depending on size of pan. The bigger the pan, the more likely it will take the full time. Can also make as carrot muffins. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below).
Note: The Practical Cook loves raisins, and has been threatening to add golden raisins to this recipe for some time, in place of the nuts (1 cup), but hasn’t had the opportunity. If you try this, let me know.
Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe
8 oz cream cheese, softened (full or low-fat, up to you)
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 Tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (using a real vanilla bean transforms this recipe past really good into stratospheric)
1 1/4 powdered sugar, sifted (do not skip this part, or you will cry a river of lumpy tears)
Using a hand-held or stand mixer, blend cream cheese and butter until well combined. Mix in sour cream and vanilla. Slowly add powdered sugar, scraping down the sides as you go. Do not even think about using cream cheese straight from the fridge or frozen butter. Again, see river of tears, lumpy.
The nice thing about this cake is that it has some substance. It’s not cloyingly sweet (and you can back off the sugar and amp the spices if you like more zing), and it’s got a real freshness about it. Serve it with ice cream if you’ve got picky eaters, but you may be surprised at how many people are excited to eat something homemade and stealthily healthy.
Enough talk about dessert, tomorrow, tune in for Can this supper be saved? (mine, that is), Fish Edition. Includes the world premiere of “The Great Tuna Salad Experiment” recipe and the heartwarming tale of a fish-hater finishing her dinner.
Questions, comments, wisecracks: practicalcook at gmail dot com