I remember the first time I had carrot cake. January 15, 1972, my sixteenth birthday. The family had gathered for the ritual birthday dinner, which in my case was Creamed Chicken on Biscuits. My mom made killer creamed chicken and I asked for it every year on my birthday. My sister arrived with the cake and the newest Three Dog Night record that I had been pleading for for weeks. I knew when I didn’t get it for Christmas that today would be the day it would arrive in my hot little hands, ready for endless listenings. My birthday being so close to Christmas, that was always the case. Whatever I begged and pleaded for that didn’t come at Christmas ended up as my birthday present. From about the time I turned 10 this was usually the latest record by whatever band I was fascinated by at the time. This year it was Three Dog Night. At any rate, my sister arrives with this cake and begins telling us that it is a new recipe she had found and it is healthy (of course we all know now that carrot cake is hardly healthy). I am thinking, is she nuts? It’s my birthday. I am turning 16, I will be getting my drivers license in a few months and she shows up with some healthy cake with vegetables in it. I want chocolate cake with tons of icky gooey frosting. We have our dinner and afterwards I endure the singing of the birthday song, waiting for the minute when I can run to my room and put my new record on the turntable. I make the first furtive slice into this healthy alternative for birthday cake. My sister is going on and on about how it is the newest thing. I am thinking that between her husband and her kids she has finally lost it but decide to give her a break since she did spring for the record. I close my eyes and dig into the healthy cake. OH MY GOD, can this be? This cake is incredible. Moist and spicy, loaded with flavor. And the cream cheese frosting, I am in heaven. This is almost as good as I know the record is going to be. All of a sudden I would rather have another piece of this cake then run to my room for record listening. A revelation.
That was my first carrot cake experience and it hasn’t really changed much. Carrot cake isn’t anything new these days but everytime I taste one I am instantly sent right back to my mothers kitchen on that birthday so many years ago. I never get tired of it. This version doesn’t really seem very different from any other version I have made and to be honest, that is a good thing. It is nice to know that somethings never change and that no matter when you have them they will always be just as good as you remember them.
The cake is simplicity itself. The most complicated thing you have to do is grate the carrots and thanks to the food processor that only takes a minute. I combined the dry ingredients in a bowl, whisked them together and sifted them. I then put the two sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla in the mixer bowl and beat them together until well combined. I added the dry ingredient mixture and beat to combine. I then added the carrots and beat them in and then half of the raisins were beaten in.
Cake ready for the oven
All the while I was being lead into a false sense of security. Certainly I was just about finished with the recipe and this weeks silly redundant unnecessary step wasn’t there. And then, just as I was about to make this as the one straightforward recipe in this book, there it was. Once the batter goes into the pan and is ready for the oven I was being asked to sprinkle the rest of the raisins on the top and then use an offset spatula to push them into the batter. WHY? WHY? WHY? Why does Rose do this? Does she do it just so the recipe will seem different? Does she do it just so that I will have extra utensils to clean up? What is the point of these silly seemingly useless steps? Well, I figured this step was to ensure that the raisins didn’t sink to the bottom of the cake but she already had us toss them in flour which is supposed to ensure that doesn’t happen so I found this last step annoyingly useless. But, since this recipe has brought back such found memories for me I have decided to believe that Rose does this just so that I will have something to complain about in this blog every week and let it go at that.
I baked the cakes in a 325 degree oven (I adjusted the temperature for my convection oven) for 40 minutes and it tested done. I then cooled the cakes on a rack for 10 minutes and then unmolded the cakes on a rack until completely cooled.
The frosting is very simple. I melted the white chocolate and allowed it to cool. While it was cooling I blended the cream cheese , sour cream and butter in the food processor until smooth. I then added the cooled white chocolate and blended the mixture until smooth and creamy. That was it. It couldn’t have been easier. I took a bit of artistic license here and used white chocolate with coconut in it. It was Lindt Excellence White Coconut. When I saw it on the shelf I just thought it would taste great with the carrots so I went for it. It was very mild and it did enhance the flavor of the cake. As with most of Rose’s frostings, this one is very soft. The recipe warns that it firms in the refrigerator. I could hardly get my crumb coat on without it sliding down the sides of the cake so into the fridge it went. I wish that Rose would make at least one frosting that was firm enough to use right out of the mixer. Oh well, this was so good it is hardly worth carping over a few minutes in the refrigerator.
Carrot cake is one of those all time classics which never fails to please and satisy and this wonderful, definitely heavenly version is no exception. Now, if you will all excuse me, I think I will have a great big slice and go listen to my Three Dog Night records.
Next Up: English Gingerbread