“Cake! Everybody likes cake!”
That’s a quote from Shrek. It comes to mind a lot when I hear the word “cake.”
I don’t know if I agree, though. I’m not really a cake person. You can probably tell I’m more of a pie person. That said, I do enjoy the occasional cake. Ice cream cake comes to mind. Or really good chocolate cake, or angel food cake. But, in general, I pick pie over cake. So I don’t really make cake very often. And when I do, I never make it from scratch.
I always assumed that making cake from scratch would be difficult. I’m not really sure why, but I assume it has something to do with the fear of the cake dropping and also watching tv shows like Top Chef where chefs decide to use cake mixes for wedding cakes because they don’t want to ruin the wedding.
Last week I finally decided to risk it and made a cake. It was my friend Blair’s birthday and he likes carrot cake. So, with a little prodding from my friend Gina, I decided to go for it. After a bit of research I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com.
I think the most annoying part of the recipe was shredding the carrots. It took forever and little shreds of carrot got everywhere. And stuck to everything.
After the carrots, it was very simple. Mix the ingredients as directed. Don’t over-mix. I looked at the suggestions from reviewers, but was unable to follow all of them. For example: add crushed pineapple. Substitute applesauce for some of the oil. I didn’t have any crushed pineapple or applesauce, so I skipped those. However, I did add nutmeg, more vanilla, more cinnamon, and substituted 1 cup brown sugar for white. I also did not include pecans because, while I love pecans, I didn’t have any.
After mixing it all together, putting it in the oven, I guarded that door like crazy. No way someone was going to come into the kitchen open the oven to check it out, and possibly cause it to drop. Not my cake!
While guarding the cake, I also made the cream cheese icing. This was a little more difficult than I’m used to, because I normally have my handy-dandy hand mixer. I was not in my home kitchen so I made due with what my friends had: a whisk. It really wasn’t difficult, just required a little more effort. I added the cups for powdered sugar one at a time so I wouldn’t be overwhelmed. I kind of imagined starting to mix it all and having this big cloud of powdered sugar poofing up all around me.
I never made it past two cups. It was already so sweet at that point, and I didn’t want it to be overpoweringly sweet. I had some tasters tell me what they thought, and they agreed. Adding more sugar would have made it thicker, too, but I think it was thick enough.
I decided that I’d color a bit of the icing so I could decorate the cake. There was no food coloring to be found, though, so I improvised with some cinnamon (because I really do love cinnamon, and someone suggested it). I put that in a plastic bag, cut off a corner, and wrote “Happy Bday Blair!” (I didn’t have enough room for the whole word “birthday”) and added happy faces, flowers and hearts just to be festive.
Now I wish I could tell you about enjoying a slice of this cake, but I didn’t get a chance to have more than one bite! I finished icing it and had to drive home. I took a piece for my mom (who loves carrot cake) and had a small bite of that, but that was it. I did, however, get a few messages from friends who enjoyed the cake. I hope Blair liked it, since it was his birthday cake.
My friend Will took a video of me when I started making the cake. He said, “What are you going to write on your blog about this if this is a success?” and I responded, “I’m going to say I tried, and it worked out!” And I’d say it did.
Carrot Cake III Recipe (edited with my changes made to it)
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in carrots. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. (note: I just let this cool in the pan because I wanted to keep it in the pan, for storage reasons).
Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners sugar and vanilla. Beat until mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake.