Let’s pretend Easter hasn’t passed and you’re still dying to make carrot cake. It’s not that unlikely of a scenario. Maybe you just really like carrot cake.
In fact, I didn’t make this carrot cake for Easter. I made it before Easter, for a dear friend and (former!) co-worker’s going away party. Said friend was on what I refer to as “the Jesus diet” and had given up all sweets for Lent. However, said friend was caught red-handed sneaking a confection or two during the Lenten season. Said friend’s excuse was, “but I only cheat when they’re your desserts!”
I see where this is going. Bring the sinner to hell with you. I did make steak on Good Friday.
My friend Steph’s last day of work happened to fall a week before her Jesus diet ended. I found myself in a pickle. As the resident baker in the office, I knew a dessert would be expected for her send-off. But what dessert to make for a “farewell party,” if not cake? We couldn’t exactly bid her adieu over a bowl of fruit salad.
And for the record, fruit salad is not dessert.
Call me an enabler, but I played the “what if” game, asking Steph if she would cheat if I hypothetically made her a cake, and if so, what kind of hypothetical cake would she want? She had recently mentioned that she adored carrot cake, so I decided to give it a try. The pressure was on. I needed to make her a cake worth repenting for.
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 cups grated carrots
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
- In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. 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. Frost the cooled cake.
Note the label! A gift from my best gal, Chelsea!
I had never tasted carrot cake until I made it myself. Strange, I know. When you consider that it is traditionally served with a cream cheese frosting, you’ll understand. I had no idea what to expect. With an open mind and a fork, I dug in.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the carrot cake was bursting with flavor: sweet and slightly spicy, a cake unlike any other I’d tried. Moist and dense, it was more similar in texture to a quick bread than a cake, and the pecans added a subtle crunch. It reminded me of a “comfort food” dessert- a nostalgic dessert that would transport you to your grandmother’s dining room table. I quickly understood why carrot cake has stood the test of time as a classic. This treat got rave reviews around the office. I’m not sure if people came to say good-bye to my co-worker, or because they heard there was carrot cake.
The good news is that Steph confessed her sins and had to say a few Hail Marys in return. She is back in The Big Guy’s good graces, and says the cake was totally worth the penance.