23 April 2010

Carrot Cake - A Blast From the Past

Chocolate had been my favorite flavor of cake, or anything else, until the day I had carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I was a teenager, and it was love at first bite. My mother and I couldn't find a recipe for it anywhere, so we made one up. And here it is, with a few minor changes I've made over the years. Since I started making it in a half-sheet pan, I use more finely shredded carrots, more finely chopped nuts and tiny Zante currants instead of raisins because it's a thin cake.

You don't need a stand mixer, or even a hand mixer, just a spoon to stir it up. And an 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan (I LOVE my half-sheet pan). For a casual party, you can serve the cake straight from the pan. For an afternoon tea or other fancy party, you can cut it into dozens of 1 to 1 1/2-inch squares as a quick and easy stand-in for petits fours.

Carrot Sheet Cake
(Makes 18x13x1-inch half-sheet, 32 servings)

2 packed cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cup organic canola oil
12 ounces (approximately 2 cups) finely shredded carrots
1 cup Zante currants (tiny raisins)
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 3-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar (1 pound, if frosting layer cake)
2 tablespoons milk
1 drop each red and yellow food coloring

1 Preheat oven to 350. Spray with cooking spray an 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan. In small bowl, whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon and salt. In another small bowl, stir a tablespoon of flour mixture into currants to coat and separate; stir in chopped nuts.

2 In large bowl, beat eggs; beat in sugar, then oil. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in carrots, raisins and nuts. Pour into prepared pan. Bake about 30 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack about 2 hours.

3 In small bowl of electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar (no need to sift) and mix until thoroughly combined, adding milk and food coloring at the end. I usually don’t use food coloring, but I like to give a slight peach tint to the frosting, if it’s a large gathering, just so I know which is the carrot cake.


Jan Fredrik Lockert said...

Carrot cake is a favourite of mine. Very popular in Norway. I can see you have a personal touch on the recipe. The nice thing with carrot cake is that you can use different spices and herbs, such as mint. Thank you for another interesting recipe. Best regards, Jan Fredrik

Jean said...

Thank you, Jan Fredrik. I would not have thought of using mint! But mint is a classic, if not often seen, accent to cooked carrots; so why not.

Nancy said...

Hi Jean

We love carrot cake..yummy! Will have to try out your recipe...sounds soooo good!

Jean said...

Thanks, Nancy. I hope you like it. Let me know how it turns out for you. Be sure to not attempt it in just a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan, or the batter will likely overflow!

jackL said...

regarding the frosting, is it really a 3 ounce package, or is it an 8 ounce package?


Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Jack, yes, it just takes 3 ounces of cream cheese to give a nice tang to the frosting. I've had frostings made with large amounts of cream cheese, and it's simply overpowering.

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