Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Menu ~ Carrot Cake

I know I said my focus was going to be dinners for awhile, but this week calls for an exception.  For many reasons.  And one of those reasons is that Easter is already this Sunday, and this would make a fabulous dessert. 

And this cake always brings a funny memory of Beth:  when she was about 18 months, I think, we had an open house/dessert night for some friends who had lived here and then moved away.  The man of this family LOVES this cake.  Requested it.  So I made it for him.  We had set the desserts out on the dining room table, and everyone was busy visiting and catching up, kids playing chaotically all around.  A little boy, probably around 5 and sporting a darling language delay, came up to me and said, "Excuse me, but yo witto baby is on the tabo eating yo cake!"  Sure enough, there sat Beth, ON the table, eating off all the cream cheese frosting, one finger lick at a time!  She had made her way across about 1/4 of the cake by the time she was busted.  I wish I had taken a picture, but at the time all I could think of was how to rescue enough of the cake for Larry to have some.

I love this cake so much, it is a treat every time I eat it.  I have a couple friends in my life that love it as much as, or even more than, I do.  I always make this as a 9x13, but if you want to do a layer cake you certainly may.  I think you could even get 3 layers out of this batter.  If you do the layered cake, double the frosting recipe so you have enough.  You will be really happy you made this cake, and you'd be wise to keep it covered if Beth is near by:

Carrot Cake

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups grated carrots (I always use the small side of the grater for this recipe.  I think it incorporates better into the cake.)
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple, do NOT drain
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

Beat together oil, eggs and sugar.  Add pineapple - with the juice! - and grated carrots.  Mix well.  Stir in baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Add flour and combine well.  Add vanilla and beat well.  Stir in nuts.  (I use a nut chopper and chop them quite a bit.  I would say just smaller that the size of pea gravel.  Again, it all blends into the cake better so you don't just have one big hunk-o-nut.  If you hate nuts, leave them out.  If you are allergic to nuts, PLEASE leave them out!  But if you are not sure, go ahead and add them.  It really brings out a great flavor in the cake.)  Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick spray and pour in the batter.  Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.  The center should have just lost its jiggle, with the edges well-set.  If you take it out and the center immediately sinks, pop it back in the oven for about 5 more minutes, then check it again.

Let cool completely, then frost with cream cheese frosting:

Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 box powdered sugar

Beat together until well-blended and fluffy.  Spread over cake.  Sprinkle with some additional chopped nuts to make it look all perty.

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