World's Best Carrot Cake

The original recipe for this carrot cake came from a friend. Deborah Stanley then made her unique changes to the cake adding the pineapple and the olive oil. (She is part Italian after all.) It is so rich, moist and flavorful that when she first brought it to a family gathering we all thought we had gone to cake heaven.

Now we can hardly have a family gathering without this cake.

You can make it in layers or single sheets. Any way you serve it you can be assured of having the best carrot cake in the world.

A little history ...

According to the food historians, our modern carrot cake most likely descended from Medieval carrot puddings enjoyed by people in this part of Europe. Carrots are an old world food. imported to the Americas by European settlers. In the 20th century carrot cake was re-introduced as a "healthy alternative" to traditional desserts. The first time was due to necessity; the second time was spurred by the popular [though oftimes misguided] wave of health foods. Is today's carrot cake healthy? It can be. It all depends upon the ingredients.

"In the Middle Ages in Europe, when sweeteners were scarce and expensive, carrots were used in sweet cakes and desserts. In Britain...carrot puddings...often appeared in recipe books in the 18th and 19th centuries. Such uses were revived in Britain during the second World War, when the Ministry of Food disseminated recipes for carrot Christmas pudding, carrot cake, and so on and survive in a small way to the present day. Indeed, carrot cakes have enjoyed a revival in Britain in the last quarter of the 20th century. They are perceived as 'healthy' cakes, a perception fortified by the use of brown sugar and wholemeal flour and the inclusion of chopped nuts, and only slightly compromised by the cream cheese and sugar icing which appears on some versions."

---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press: Oxford] 1999 (p. 141)



 

Carrot Cake

From Deborah Stanley


Ingredients

 

Cake

2 cups - flour

2 teaspoons - baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons - baking soda

1 teaspoon - salt

1 can (14 oz.) - Dole Crushed Pineapple (including juice)

1/2 cup - chopped walnuts*

2 tablespoons - cinnamon

2 cups - sugar

1 cup - extra virgin olive oil

4 each - eggs

2 cups grated carrots


Frosting

8 oz. - Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese

1/2 cup - butter

1 teaspoon - Pure vanilla Extract

1 lb. - powered sugar

Preparation

Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Prepare  two - 9 x 2 inch (23 x 5 cm) cake pans with  butter or spray. (If you have parchment paper you can line the bottom of the pans.)

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

Beat the eggs until frothy (about 1 minute) in bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand mixer).

Gradually add the sugar and beat until the batter is thick and light colored (about 3 - 4 minutes).

Add the olive oil in a steady stream.

Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated.

Fold in the grated carrots and chopped nuts with a spatula.

Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Frosting

Put the cream cheese and butter into the bowl of an  electric mixer (or with a hand mixer).

Beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, just until blended and there are no lumps.

Add the powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth.

Beat in the vanilla extract.

Assemble the cake

When the cake cools to room temperature assemble and ice the cake in layers or sheets.

Serves 8 to 10

Note: No Baby Carrots were harmed in the making of this carrot cake. Save the Baby Carrots!

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Interesting Facts!

Carrots are an "Old World" vegetable. They adapted readily to "New World" soil. Notes here:

"Carrot. A root vegetable of the Umbelliferae family--and thus related to parsley, dill, and celery...although originally native to Afghanistan, is now found all over the world in many shapes, sizes, and colors."
---Cambridge World History of Food, Kennth F. Kiple & Kriemhild Conee Ornelas [Cambridge University Press:Cambridge] 2001, Volume Two (p. 1746)

"In her New York Cookbook (1992), Molly O'Neill says that George Washington was served a carrot tea cake at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan. The date: November 25, 1783. The occasion: British Evacuation Day. She offers an adaptation of that early recipe, which was printed in The Thirteen Colonies Cookbook (1975) by Mary Donovan, Amy Hatrack, and Frances Schull. It isn't so very different from the carrot cakes of today. Yet strangely, carrot cakes are noticeably absent from American cookbooks right through the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth. Before developing a new pudding-included carrot and spice cake mix, Pillsbury researched carrot cake in depth, even staged a nation-wide contest to locate America's first-published carrot cake recipe. Their finding: A carrot cake in The Twentieth Century Bride's Cookbook published in 1929 by a Wichita, Kansas, woman's club. Running a close second was a carrot cake printed in a 1930 Chicago Daily News Cookbook...Several carrot cake contestants also sent Pillsbury a complicated, two-day affair that Peg Bracken had included in one of her magazine columns sometime in the late '60s or early '70s...Whatever its origin, carrot cake didn't enter mainstream America until the second half of this century."

---The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 435)