Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Carrot cake!

Today is my mother-in-law's birthday and I made a cake.  A few days ago, I volunteered and we decided that I could make the cake in a stealth operation while my in-laws were out.  It was not a stealth operation at all.  At various points I had to hide a cake behind my back while slinking around the house.  Several people have also all but told her-- from "Why is there icing sugar on the list?" to "Oh, I'm making a carrot cake now, too!"  We could have, perhaps should have, come clean about the whole thing.  Then we could be sitting around waiting for cake time, instead of sitting around pretending that we are not waiting for cake time.  It's even worse for me, probably, because I know exactly what we are waiting for and I'm so excited to share this particular cake with everyone.

This cake is one of the recipes that we make year after year in my family.  Every September we make this carrot cake for my mother.  Then pumpkin pie for my sister's birthday and strawberry tarts for mine.  The carrot cake sets the bar high.  To me, this carrot cake was the one, the only, choice for this birthday.  After we had a looong conversation with a local friend about carrot cake today (I know!) we know that Gill loves carrot cake, but doesn't know how to make it.  I plan to pass this recipe along, if it goes over well.  Which I think it will.  Because this cake is delicious--fluffy, spicy and moist.  It's been tweaked and modified over the years, but actually less so than other recipes in our repertoire.  It is originally from the 1975 Williamsburg Cookbook.  This is what my mother e-mailed to me, when I said I wanted to make The Carrot Cake (Thanks mom!  I hope you don't mind my copy/pasting... and see, it turned out great!):

Spicy Carrot Cake  (my mom's notes)

1.5   Cups Vegetable Oil 
(I use corn, in a pinch safflower, if desperate peanut, never olive!)

2.5   Cups Sugar
4      Eggs, Separated

2.5   Cups Sifted Flour
1.4   Teaspoons Baking Powder
  .5   Teaspoon Baking Soda
  .25  Teaspoon Salt
  .25  Teaspoon Grated Nutmeg
  .5    Teaspoon Ginger
1       Teaspoon Cinnamon 
(I use a heavy hand with the spices...)

1.5    Cups Grated Raw Carrots
1       Cup Chopped Pecans  
(I omit) (other additions: coconut raisins, currants...) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 10 inch tube cake pan.

Mix the oil and sugar.  Beat in the egg yolks one at a time.  Continue to beat and add 5 Tablespoons very hot water. 
(at this point  the mixture should become cloudy then very smooth and almost shiny – you are essentially cooking the eggs a bit with the hot water) Sift and mix dry ingredients.  Add to egg mixture.

Stir in the carrots and pecans.

Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Fold gently into the batter. (
this is a heavy batter, lightened by the folded froth)
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes until done. 
( test with a toothpick or straw)
Cool right side up in the pan for 15 minutes, then hang until turned out.  Cool completely.

Drizzle with a Glaze made of .75 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar mixed with 3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice. 
( or dust with sifted  Confectioners Sugar(or ice with Cream Cheese Icing made with Butter, Cream Cheese and Confectioner’s Sugar...) Note: I actually just mixed some sugar packets (nicked from the cafe where we had coffee this afternoon) into some creme fraiche and poured it over... the aforementioned icing sugar was a long story, but suffice to say we have plenty of cornmeal now.

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