Sunday, February 19, 2017

My Family's World's Best Carrot Cake

When I was a wee lassie, I remember my mother making this incredible cake with the best frosting. I knew it had carrots in it, but couldn't figure out why it tasted so good. I hated carrots.
Of course, it was all the sugar. I loved sugar.
Not to mention the cream cheese. Oh, glorious cream cheese!

Fast forward a few years when I lived in Phoenix with my future husband. I had weekly phone calls to mom. Phoenix was so brown, and boring, and rocks everywhere....where was the green grass? the trees? Gah, I hated it (I learned to love the stark beauty about the time we moved away).

So, on the phone with mom and I tell her, I need you to write down a bunch of your recipes for me and send me the book.
She hemmed and hawed a bit. But the way I saw it, that as-yet unwritten recipe book could someday be handed down to my (unborn as yet) daughter, and then her daughter. Not to mention it would help me now.

Mom asked what kind of recipes. I said all of them.
Now, one thing about mom. She doesn't cook.
She bakes. And not all the time. Just when she felt like it.
Dad did all the cooking. Dad loves to cook. That's why he opened a restaurant.
So for mom to write down all the recipes, she would have to talk with him and get the food recipes, while she handled the dessert side.

But she somehow managed and I ended up with my very own family recipe book. I cherish that book. If my house were on fire, it would be one of the first things I grab. My jewelry can melt, my stuff can burn. But by golly, I'm grabbing that recipe book and my wedding photos!
The recipes are in no particular order. You can find cornbread next to blueberry coffee cake and meat loaf next to banana bread. But I know where they are.

Fast forward to my current husband (who is my very own angel and soul mate) and he mentions that I've promised my famous carrot cake but have yet to deliver on that promise...

I grab my family recipe book and look up carrot cake.
And it's unlegible.
Oh no! I can't read it!

I know, I'll message dad...he'll have it.
And it took him almost 24hrs to get back to me...longest 24 hours of my life! I was jonesing for that carrot cake..
Well, he tells me he has two recipes, but can only find one. And it's not THE one. bad bananas, I was.

Well, maybe I can find it online somewhere? Doubtful...but I'm going to try.
And I find one similar, but not exact.
And the one dad sent was similar, but not exact.
And the two were not alike.

So I did what any good kitchen bee would do...I combined the two. I tried going from memory as best as I could...using the two recipes as guides.
I took the number of eggs from one recipe, the spices from another, etc.

And you know what? It came out fantastic! Not *exactly* like my childhood carrot cake...but pretty darn close. So close, it's a fraternal twin.

That'll work.

*MY* Family's World's Best Carrot Cake

4 med or 2 HUGE carrots, medium shred (I use the food processor shredding blade)
4 eggs
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 c canola oil (OR 6 oz canola oil & 6 oz plain yogurt)
1 small can pineapple tidbits, drained, reserving liquid
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1 package cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 stick butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp reserved pineapple juice
(double frosting ingredients if making a 2-tier round cake, like mine)

Mix first six ingredients in large bowl. Add 2 tbs reserved pineapple juice.

In separate bowl, mix dry ingredients, except walnuts. Mix well.

Add carrot mixture to dry mixture, stirring well.
Add walnuts and mix until combined.

Pour into 2- 8" round pans or 1- 9"x13" pan that's been buttered and floured. (I usually cut parchment paper to fit the bottom of my pans and skip the butter and flouring)

Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes or cake tester comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, add softened cream cheese to bowl. (If you have a stand mixer, it works great for this. I don't...but maybe one day I will inherit my dads?? I've wanted one since I was 16!!)
Add 1/2 the powdered sugar and blend with mixer. Add 1 tsp of vanilla, and 1 tsp of pineapple juice. Mix some more. When combined, add second half of powdered sugar, blend. Add remaining extract and juice, blend, then frost!

I really think the pineapple juice in the frosting gives it that OOMPH. You can't really tell it's there, you just know it's different in the best possible way.

Side note- the one thing I *can* read on the bottom of the recipe, and I forgot until after I finished the cake, was the frosting had coconut in it. 1 cup of coconut. Now, you don't have to add it. But that does give this fabulous cake a tropical flare.

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