This post was meant to be a tribute to my friend Betty and her wonderful carrot cake. She's a Canadian transplant to the UK and like all good North Americans she understands the importance of baking a good cake. Betty took the time to write out her time-honored recipe for carrot cake after Mr A&N came away from his first slice declaring he had been to the promised land and it had had a cream cheese frosting.
With my two bags of carrots bought and aching to be shredded, though, I found that Betty's recipe had disappeared. This lone piece of paper had been tucked into my own trusty book of recipes but I can only presume it feel out during the kitchen building chaos. There was no Betty available to give me the recipe again, and with friends coming around in a few hours I felt I had to stick to the plan.
I instead turned to the internet and found something on All Recipes that seemed to fit the bill, and was highly rated by other users. Losing my intended recipe set the tone for the experience - I suffered from exploding butter left in the microwave too long, me having eaten one of the 4 eggs needed for breakfast, and accidentally popping the cake out of the spring-bottom dish so that it flipped onto the counter top. I had to substitute hazelnuts for walnuts which turned out to be a good swap, but it seemed as if each step of the recipe was a reminder of how this wasn't meant to be.
I wasn't over-awed by the results. The cake itself was moist and warmingly spicy but a bit too sweet, and the cream cheese frosting didn't have as much of a tang as I would have liked it to. I cut back on the sugar in the frosting since I already knew the cake was sweet, but it still wasn't cream cheese-y enough and slightly too runny. People did ask for seconds so the recipe certainly wasn't a failure, but Betty will be getting a phone call from me soon, as our much-overdue catch up has suddenly become more urgent.
Carrot Cake (from Tammy Elliott on All Recipes website, printed with the changes I made)
makes one 9 x 13 inch tray or two 8 inch circular tins
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- 2 cups white sugar (some comments on the recipe suggest using half brown and half white sugar)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice or nutmeg
- 3 cups grated carrots
- 1 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- about 1 C of hazelnuts, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Grease and flour your cake pan(s).
- In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla.
- Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
- Stir in carrots, and then fold in the nuts.
- Pour into prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
- To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.