After a glorious weekend away, we had to come back to reality. Back to work for both of us. But the upside to getting back to our regular routine is that I have Sundays at my disposal. Jordan works all day Sundays and so I’m left to my own devices. I like to think of Sunday as my project day. Usually this means walking Willow, putting off showering, planning dinners for the week (or as many days I as I can figure out/carry home), going grocery shopping, cooking something, listening to a lot of 99% Invisible, walking Willow some more, and maybe blogging, but usually procrastinating by checking Instagram, cleaning algae off my shower curtain or watering my plants. It’s rather glamorous.
But really, I’ve come to love having a day to myself to work on my things, whatever those things happen to be. Usually it’s food, but sometimes it’s putzing with a camera or trying to get better at calligraphy. It’s energizing to have time to myself, though maybe not quite as refreshing as no cell phone service, fresh air and a stunning view of vineyards.
I made this cake on one such Sunday, I think it was last weekend, but it could have been the one before. Carrot cake is one of those desserts that you only really have once a year, usually around Easter. Something about bunnies and carrots, maybe? It’s is a neglected cake flavor, up against a tough crowd. Honestly, it’s hard to be a vegetable and hold a candle to dark chocolate or vanilla bean. But I happen to really like carrot cake and think it deserves a little more time in the spotlight. It popped into my head to make it, and so I did, even though Easter is long past. Cake doesn’t have to be chocolate to be delicious, especially if it has cream cheese icing.
This carrot cake is recipe from my Nonnie, which means it is pretty much perfect. It’s moist, delicately spiced, and easy to make. It doesn’t have raisins lurking in its layers, but you do get a little crunch from the pecans. The cream cheese frosting is also divine, and good on just about anything you can think to put it on. My Nonnie usually makes this cake in a 9″ x 11″ dish, but two stacked rounds with frosting sandwiched in between are just too cute to resist. Add a few more minutes to the baking time if you prefer a single layer cake.
Nonnie’s Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crushed pineapple in juice (seems strange, but it’s the magic ingredient)
1 cup carrot, grated (about two large carrots)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2/3 cup neutral-tasting oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat an over to 350 degrees. Butter, line with parchment paper, butter again and flour two 8″ round baking pans. Experience has taught me that taking the extra time to add a layer of parchment really does make it easier to extract cakes from their molds.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pineapple, carrot, pecans, oil and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix to combine.
Divide into the two pans. Bake at 350° F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Take care to not over-bake this cake, the moistness is spectacular if you don’t overdo it. Cool on a rack and frost when cooled.
Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
dash of salt
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted (especially if you live in damp SF)
Cream butter, cream cheese, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Frost just about anything and I guarantee you’ll love it!