Last summer when I asked my wife what she would like for her birthday, I assumed that she would suggest something simple, like finding her an autographed copy of the latest Joyce Carol Oates novel or an inexpensive dinner at some four star restaurant in Chicago or New Orleans. Instead, she smiled and said, “Carrot Cake.”
She knows that cakes and cookies with vegetables in them are not high on my list of favorites. My idea of a good dessert is one with lots of eggs, butter and sugar accompanied with a scoop or two of ice cream, not something with roots or squash ground up in it. She also knew that I had never even considered making a carrot cake.
But since she has been making my special birthday cake (angel food cake with whipped cream lemon icing) for over 40 years, I said, “OK.”
Do you know how many carrot cake recipes there are? I do not, but when I searched the web for “carrot cake” Google reported 7,650,000 results in .2 seconds. In other words, lots of people either like carrot cake or want to use up extra carrots.
A few years ago at a church potluck I had a small piece of carrot cake that I liked, so I looked for a recipe that I thought might result in something similar. The recipe below is close to what I remember, and it tastes pretty good. Jerri and several of her friends said it was delicious. A neighbor said it was one of the best carrot cakes he had ever eaten.
I have made it twice so far and have eaten four pieces (two from each cake). You might want to try it. I’ll be grating carrots for the third one next week. There’s a birthday later this month for someone who likes carrot cake.
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup crushed pineapple
2 cups grated raw carrots
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
Peel and shred the carrots and chop the walnuts. Set them aside to add later. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Sift the flour, soda, cinnamon, and salt together into a small bowl. In large bowl beat the eggs, then add the oil, buttermilk, sugar, and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture, pineapple, carrots, coconut, and walnuts and stir about a minute to mix the batter thoroughly.
Grease and flour a 9 x 13 x 2 inch cake pan and spread the batter evenly into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes. When the cake is done a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean. Let the cake cool completely in the pan on a rack, then frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. You can firm up the icing by placing the cake in the refrigerator.
Cream Cheese Frosting
12 ounces Neufchatel cheese
6 T butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl and allow to soften at room temperature at least an hour before making the frosting. With a wooden spoon mix the cream cheese and butter together until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually sift in the confectioners’ sugar (about a quarter cup at a time) and beat until smooth. Store any extra frosting in the refrigerator.
NOTES: I use Neufchatel cheese because it has a bit less fat than cream cheese and still makes an excellent frosting. Cream cheese will work just as well and may taste better to you. I substituted pecans for the walnuts the second time I made the cake, and it was just as good.