Carrot Cake

The Covered Dish

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Happy 90th Birthday to my Dad, Jerry M. Dance! The apple doesn’t fall to fall from the tree. Not only is this cake my father’s favorite cake, it’s also mine. Instead of a big party we are celebrating this year with calls and cards due to ornery ole’ Mr. Covid. I’m headed back to Lewistown to celebrate birthdays with both of my parents the first of September. Wish I wasn’t so far away because I’d be there this weekend and the next.

Sometimes when I’m doing culinary classes I challenge everyone to think about their palate and tell whose taste palate they have acquired. Mine is my dad, Jerry, and on my maternal side it’s my Grandpa, Virgil Richardson. Funny, I also have my Grandpa Virgil’s body type, his walk and his nature all rolled into one. And….I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

One thing that I do to make carrot cakes less troublesome is I grate and freeze carrots ahead of time. It sure makes it handy to make the cake or muffins. Check out all the tips I’ve included. One icing I don’t mention below is the use of a burnt butter icing, it too would complement this cake quite well.

Carrot cakes have been made for a very very long time. They were made abroad hundreds of years ago when sugar was hard to acquire. They reached for carrots and additional fruits to sweeten their cakes and puddings. In fact, the first carrot cake was more like a pudding. You could find raisins, figs, prunes, carrots even apples in the cakes. The addition of nuts is always a personal decision. I wouldn’t suggest using black walnuts because the taste is just too robust. Select either an English walnut or a pecan. To further enhance the nutmeats remember to roast them first before placing them in a baked good. Wait; there are still other nuts that should be considered; pistachio and almonds could easily be implemented.

There are no raisins in my current recipe but usually I grab 1/2 cup to 1 cup and include them too. As you look at the oil content you will find that it’s been pulled back to only 3/4 of a cup of vegetable or canola oil for this recipe. I also pulled a fast one on the flour by implementing a bit of whole wheat grind. It’s not a huge amount of whole wheat flour, but enough to bring in a bit of nutty flavor.

By recipe comparisons you may find the leavening ingredients a bit high. Consider the weight of the fruits added and you’ll see why the amount is a bit higher than usual. There are good ratios out there for how much baking soda or baking powder to use in a recipe. Usually for every cup of flour I anticipate using around a 1/2 teaspoon of leavening. This is not the way leavening formulas work in general. In the United States we still measure our dry goods by cups, in most other countries it is done by weight. When I’m making a baked good, most particularly breads, I stir the flour up before scooping it out of the container and I scrape the top so it is even.

Carrot Cakes usually have a cream cheese icing, but don’t hesitate to try something like a buttercream. As you view the recipe note that I place fresh orange zest both in the icing and in the cake batter. Everyone has told me they love this approach. You will note in the recipe that I make a comment regarding the amount of icing to make. For a tiered cake I make a ‘double’ batch of the icing. For a 9 X 13, (1) icing recipe should be ample.

Take a quick peek at crushed pineapple. After moving to the Ozarks I started to observe that some stores carry the small flats and a few do not. When you drain the pineapple flat you actually end up with about 5-6 ounces of actual crushed pineapple. I share this because there was a time or two when I had to open a larger can just to acquire the 5-6 ounces. If you have extra throw it in the freezer for a baked item at a later time.

For breakfast say good bye to the icing and hello to a carrot muffin. A few folks have told me they use applesauce instead of the oil in a carrot cake. I don’t go that far because it truly changes the structure of the cake. However, if you have to for health reasons, then you just do what you need to do!

My favorite way to ice a tiered cake is to freeze the nine inch rounds as soon as they have cooled. This makes icing soooooo….much easier. (After removing from the oven allow to set for approximately 15 minutes, then remove from the pan.) Remember to ice in a normal to cool room because too much warmth makes the icing slide right on down. Before I finish the sides of the cake I use a ‘scraper’ (the kind you use to pick up crumbs) and I drag it around the cake while turning at the same time. This makes the side walls to die for gorgeous. Over the top a light sprinkling of chopped nuts makes a good final presentation.

Yes, a bit expensive and time consuming to make, but so worth it. Consider making the cakes one day and freezing them for your special gathering. This leaves less to do at the last minute.

Everyone have a terrific week! Simply yours, The Covered Dish
www.thecovereddish.com
Carrot Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup light vegetable oil, canola
1 cup buttermilk
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups grated carrots
1 (8 1/2 ounce) can of pineapple, drained
(This is actually about 5-6 ounces of pineapple.)
1/2 cup chopped Toasted Pecans
1/2 cup coconut (optional)
1/2 cup – 1 cup raisins
1 medium-large orange, zested into batter, or about 2 tablespoons

Icing
(Make one batch for a 9 x 13, two batches for tiered cakes.)
2 cups powdered sugar (one pound)
1/2 stick softened butter (1/4 cup)
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
Orange Zest to taste, approx. 2 teaspoons
Additional Pecans to sprinkle over icing, if desired
Yields (1) 9 x 13 or (3) nine inch rounds, greased
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes with 9 x 13 pan
About 25 minutes for 9 inch rounds. Check with toothpick.

Cream the sugars into the oil, gradually add the whisked eggs, and buttermilk. In a separate bowl place all the dry ingredients whisking or stirring together. Gradually add the dry to the wet ingredients. Lastly add all the fruits and nuts. When baking a tiered cake I usually put 2 cups of batter in each pan and then split the remaining cake batter equally.

 

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