I love Carrot Cake! The combination of sweet carrots, cinnamon spice and luscious cream cheese frosting is too much for me to resist. If I see it, I have to have it! I worked at a Bakers Square when I was in high school and their carrot cake was pretty darn good. I brought a slice home for myself and tucked it away in the back of the refrigerator to be enjoyed later that evening while watching Melrose Place. My very misguided little brother decided to help himself to my cake and I had a complete and total meltdown. I was inconsolable for hours and twenty-six years later I still can’t say I have forgiven or forgotten. You simply do not mess with a person’s carrot cake!
My very favorite carrot cake is Martha’s Special Occasion Carrot Cake at Hub 51 in Chicago. I can’t figure out how they get that soft, decadent, carrot pudding like texture — it’s so good! The recipe belongs to Rich Melman’s wife, Martha, and is a closely guarded secret. I’ve tried many times in vain to replicate it and nothing comes close. Until I find Martha’s Holy Grail recipe, I have The Silver Palate Cookbook recipe as my second favorite. Most carrot cake recipes call for grated carrots but this one uses cooked pureed carrots which distributes the carrot color and flavor more evenly, leaving a soft texture and a well-spiced cake. You can add raisins, pineapples, nuts and coconut flakes as you please but the frosting should be traditional cream cheese (in my carrot cake aficionado opinion).
SILVER PALATE COOKBOOK CARROT CAKE
Butter, for greasing the pan
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1-1⁄2 cups corn oil
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups shelled walnuts, chopped
1-1/2 cups shredded coconut
1-1/3 cups puréed cooked carrots
3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple
Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch springform pans. 2. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in the walnuts, coconut, carrots, and pineapple. 3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Set on the center rack of the oven and bake until the edges have pulled away from the sides and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 minutes. 4. Cool on a cake rack for 3 hours. Fill and frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons sweet butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice of ½ lemon (optional)
Cream together cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Slowly sift in confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated. Mixture should be free of lumps. Stir in the vanilla and lemon juice if you use it.
You know you want some….