Carrot Cake

Over dinner today, which my roommate catered, we had a discussion about zucchini casserole and the rising epidemic of young kids who have actually managed to convince themselves (and their willing parents) that to eat vegetables would be akin to sticking one’s head in a vat of, say, a very concentrated acid.

We concluded with the very astute observation that perhaps this was why, all trends considered, carrot cakes have that nifty little anti-nutritional, sans-essential-vitamins carrot on the top. In fact, I’m pretty sure that that sugary faux carrot probably constitutes more daily servings of vegetables for the average modern-day kid than he/she would normally get. I remember reading several food blogs a while back that would have comments like, “Success! I love this carrots cake and/or zucchini bread and/or some other variation of mildly-vegetated sugary substance recipe because I sneaked in my kids’ servings of vegetables!”

Not that it’s bad to try and sneak your kids veggies through yummy things–that’s like teaching through fun topics! Completely and totally acceptable. But I do believe in being straightforward about what you eat. In response to some concerned and insightful comments about my topic in this post, I guess that’s the point I want to emphasize more than anything else. I bake because I love it and because it brings joy to people in my life–healthy subs are great options that I don’t always, however, offer. I believe that it’s healthier, in some ways, to acknowledge what we’re eating and enjoy it than to pretend that it necessarily is “healthy.” I hope that makes sense.

That being said, here’s a photo of the vegetable culprit.

No, that’s not Photoshop. Heck, I don’t even know how to use a word processor properly, let alone try and fool you by editing my images ever-so-slyly. So yes, that carrot cake actually glistening. And let me tell you, it is gooood.

I had to omit walnuts from my batch because I’m taking the leftovers to my students tomorrow, and there are some food allergies (I know what you’re thinking, “Carrot cake for your students–and you’re talking about parents spoiling their kids?” Well–er…let me get back to you on that one). But you most definitely need to make these with nuts. Pecans work, too. This cake was still delicious, but I’m a sucker for the texture of a full-fledged, nut-filled carrot cake with plump raising and the whole shebam.

If you don’t believe me, just look at another photo.

But speaking of classes, did I mention that this blog was created in large part for a class I’m teaching? It’s “New Media,” and blogging is a big part of what we do in class, so I’m using carrot cakes in yet another way to teach my students. Nifty, eh? That being said…Feel free to leave a comment for the green-thumbed, bright-eyed blogger if you wish! I’m technically supposed to show them what it’s like catering to an audience and/or interacting with readers, so comments would be especially welcome at this crucial juncture. (In other words, if you like what you see/read, please let me know!)

Recipe under the cut–happy readings, all, and of course, happy eatings!

Carrot Cake

(Adapted from our old favorite, Allrecipes.)

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Cream cheese frosting:
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Red, yellow, and green gel food coloring (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×9-inch pan. Set aside.
  2. For the cake: In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white and brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon1 vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until just incorporated. Stir in carrots. Fold in walnuts, if desired. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 27-35 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. I prefer storing my carrot cake in the fridge after letting it cool briefly post-baking; I find that it makes the cake moister.
  4. For frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake with 3/4 of the plain white frosting (use all of the frosting if you don’t plan on making frosting carrots). If you want to decorate your carrot cake with frosting carrots, divide the remaining 1/4 white frosting between two bowls. Add 1 drop of green coloring to one bowl, and 1 drop of red + 2 drops of yellow coloring to the second bowl. Stir until desired color is achieved. Then simply fill two piping bags and pipe a nice little carrot on top of each slice!
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10 Replies to “Carrot Cake”

  1. I love your recipe – carrot cake is my favourite of all the cakes! – and the way you write, but your comment about the ‘obesity epidemic’ made me feel a bit sad and was a sour note in an otherwise lovely post. Ragen Chastain has done some fabulous blogging on how weight is not a good proxy for health: here are links to two of her great posts. http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/the-real-epidemic-is-not-obesity/
    http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/no-such-thing-as-a-healthy-weight/

    (She’s also an excellent example of a blogger who interacts honestly, frequently and wholeheartedly with her audience!)

    1. Oh, I see you also designed your brownies/arguments task around this topic. That’s a shame. As an aspiring teacher myself I was really enjoying the way you used baking as an analogy for writing, but I can’t support the message you present about fatness and fat people. I hope that you find something to chew on (pardon the pun! :P) in Ragen’s brilliant blogging.

    2. –and thought-provoking–comment. It really struck a chord with me, and I want to say that I hope you weren’t offended or think that kind or statement is representative of my views. It just goes to show that I still have a lot to learn about being conscientious in my writing. I definitely did not mean to endorse any negative messages on subjects that I know are sensitive. I hope you won’t take a novice’s lapse as a taint on the rest of my writing, and again, I appreciate the insight! (I’ve updated the post a bit to reflect those thoughts, too, in case that’s of iinterest.)

      1. Oops–apparently the beginning got cut off–but it said thank you!

      2. Thankyou for changing it – I really appreciate when people aren’t afraid to acknowledge issues. I’m still loving your recipes too! 😀

  2. I would agree with the previous commenter. As someone who looks at tons of baking blogs I am looking to either get recipes for myself or get lost in a scrumptious world of picture and description, and centering the whole post around your recipe being unhealthy and obesity causing doesn’t exactly whet my appetite. It seems if you’re worried about everyone making bad decisions re: sugar with their kids, etc. you could perhaps post healthier baked goods and market your blog that way. cake looks great, though!

    1. Hi! Thanks for your honest feedback. I hope you get a chance to read the reply I made to her comment–I really feel that I have a lot to learn about how I phrase what I write, and I would never want to give the impression that I’m supporting a message like body image issues. The vegetable-eating part was what came up in our conversation and I thought it might make a playful segue into the post, but I’m still learning to be chary about how I portray these things!

  3. […] – 2 cups prepared frosting (for a wonderful homemade cream cheese frosting recipe, see the Carrot Cake […]

  4. This is seriously the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten! I used only about half a cup of sugar and skipped the frosting because my parents don’t like sweet things, but it came out so, so, so delicious anyway. I made it this Friday afternoon, and by Saturday morning it was completely gone–my parents loved it as well! And the recipe was so easy! I’m not an experienced baker by any means, I only manage to bake about once every few months (though I’m home for the semester break at the moment and have a long list of baked goods I want to try out!). The difficulty of this recipe was perfect for my level. Thank you so much for posting this!

    1. I’m glad you got to try it! This is absolutely my favorite carrot cake recipe, and I also love how it’s straightforward enough that you can make it over and over again, no problem. It’s always nice to hear about a successful repeat, so thanks for sharing, and good luck with the rest of the baking at home!

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