Monday, September 22, 2008

Carrot Cake in a Time of Downsizing.

Let's face it, times are tough. Thanks to that adjustable rate mortgage, your dream house just put you into the poor house. You really want to send your kids to college, but that gets further and further away every time you have to fill up your Hummer Consumpto SUV. To top it all off, your nest egg, filled by the golden goose, just got scrambled by some guy at Lehman Brothers.

No, it's not a good time to own anything. This looming hangover from owing "too much" from having bought "too many" reminds me of a recipe story.

Many years ago, I attended business school in the Northeast. What's interesting about this is, while the business school was very good, the overall college had a great reputation for carrot cake.

That's right, carrot cake.
People begged for the recipe, alumni would request it for weddings; as great as the academic experience was, everyone remembered the carrot cake.

After graduation I went to work for a large, three-initialed computer company.
One of my colleagues graduated from the same business school. As fate would have it, this co-worker's father was the head baker for the college in question.

His father held the keys to the vault. His father not only had the recipe for this carrot cake but also oversaw its production.
His father sat, swami-like, at the top of Carrot Cake Mountain.

I pleaded, wheedled, cajoled, coaxed and inveigled. I had to and finally got, the recipe.

Ingredients: 50 lbs of flour....

Nooooo! I held Nirvana in my hands yet had no way to unlock the kitchen door. The recipe called for "pounds of eggs", who ever heard of using eggs by the pound? All I wanted was a recipe for a single, two-layer carrot cake. Curses, foiled again.

I never made the recipe. SeaShellSal and I have spent years trying out other recipes that were similar, but nothing has ever been exactly the same. Maybe someday I'll rent space in an industrial kitchen and give it a whirl. Carrot cake for 2,000.

Until then, here's SSSal's favorite version; CrabCake 2 always requests this as his birthday cake, (as you can see from the pictures). A food processor makes short work of the preparation. The cream cheese frosting is so good it should be against the law. Enjoy.

Carrot Cake
by SSSal

3/4 lbs (about 6 medium) peeled carrots cut into pieces to fit in the processor
1 piece lemon rind (approx 3" x 3/4 ")
2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1" pieces
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup walnuts
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp mace

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9" bundt pan or two 8" round cake pans for a layer cake.

Shred carrots in food processor and set aside.

Process lemon peel and sugar in the food processor. Add butter, eggs and vanilla. Process until smooth.

Add walnuts and pulse to chop and distribute.

In a large measuring cup, stir together flour, baking power, baking soda, mace, salt and cinnamon. Add to the food processor, pulsing until the flour has disappeared.

Add carrots 1/3 at a time, pulsing after each addition until fully incorporated.

Pour batter into floured pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Run spatula vertically through batter to release any air bubbles that may have formed.

Bake bundt for 55 - 60 minutes or 45 minutes for the layer cake, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool slightly and then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting
by SSSal

1 stick of butter,(4 ozs) at room temperature
8 ozs. cream cheese (the real stuff) at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar - the whole box
1 TBSP grated lemon zest

Using a mixer, combine all the ingredients and process until the frosting forms a creamy consistency. You may have to refrigerate it for 1/2 an hour or so to make sure it is not too soft.

Spread on cake. Refrigerate to set the frosting if you have time. Bring out to room temp for 1/2 an hour before serving.

This recipe can easily be doubled, and why wouldn't you? Spread it on cookies, on bagels, the family pet; this frosting is ridiculously good.

Well that's all for today. Time to replenish the retirement account, I'll be the one with the metal detector walking the beach looking for loose change. Until next time, remember, you can do it, you can cook.


Sally said...

So glad you had enough carrots for the recipe. LOL I didn't, so added crushed pineapple.
Totally agree with you about the icing. It should be classed as a drug, to be taken twice a day, with or without carrots! said...

Sally, the icing is pretty addictive. Love the new logo.

WineWizardBob said...

The perfect wine to go with great Carrot Cake with the classic frosting is hard to pronounce, harder to find and extremely expensive, or you can send your kid to college for a year. Selecion Grains Nobles, aka SGN, Gewurztraminer from any producer in the Alsace region of France. Expect to spend about $100 a HALF bottle. It can only be made in great years so you dont have to worry about the vintage. SGN wines last nearly forever, so if the wine has been stored properly you will drink one of the worlds greatest dessert wines.

Anonymous said...

Ah this is too much for me! Thank you for the recipe, but I really must must must decalculateize the 2 ton carrot cake recipe for you!

LOL. It's driving me nuts. Why don't you give me the humongous recipe and I do the math for you?

I'm completely serious. It'd be such a laugh to tell the story, and we can both try it (fingers twisted) together!

Dooo let me know your thoughts! :D said...

Well Eunice,

I'll have to root around for the recipe. We've moved 4 times since then so it may take some finding on my part.