Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.
Long before there were computers, or even those 3x5 index cards we all used to write down recipes, there were those who never owned a cookbook. They prepared their meals by instinct with a little of this and a lot of that. Somewhere in between those years, you have those cooks who had the foresight to write down recipes for the generations to come. Thankfully, my Grandmother Clara was one of them.
After my grandmother passed away in 2007, I was blessed to receive her recipes. She stored them in a large holiday tin. They are a mixed bag of every type of food from salads and casseroles to desserts.
The interesting (and fun) part of her recipes is that she very seldom took the time to write the title. Sometimes you have to finish making the recipe to discover what the actual recipe is.
I was thrilled as I worked my way through the tin to recognize the handwriting of friends of hers from church and also of family members. It was like finding a treasure trove of culinary history.
As I continued through the dozens of papers and cards, I found clippings of recipes from the newspaper food section from the 1960s and even a few of those that were included with utility bills, along with random additions or changes she had made to those that she had made.
The most treasured recipe for me is her carrot cake, which I'm going to share with you today. The recipe is written in her handwriting in pencil on a roughly torn piece of paper that has yellowed with age. I also dug a little further into her treasure trove of recipes and found one for glazed carrots. This recipe is written in her handwriting on the back of an Alabama Power bill envelope!
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze
1 1/4 cup salad oil (vegetable oil)
2 cups sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup finely chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
To make the cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly oil a 10-inch tube pan.
Mix the oil and sugar in a large mixing bowl using a spoon. Sift half of the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture and blend well. Sift the remaining ingredients into the sugar mixture and mix well. Add one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add carrots and mix well and then add the pecans and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let rest in pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn out onto a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: Add the cream cheese to a medium mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium speed until creamy. Beat in powdered sugar. Stir in vanilla. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons milk and combine all ingredients. You can add more milk 1 tablespoon at a time to get the glaze consistency you like.
When the cake is completely cooled, place on a serving plate and add the cream cheese glaze.
1 bunch carrots, peeled and ends trimmed
Water, to cover
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 to 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Slice carrots into 2-inch long pieces. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add carrots and boil until they are fork tender. Drain and return to pot over low heat. Add a pinch of salt, butter and brown sugar. Stir to cover carrots. Let warm for 10 minutes or so until butter and sugar are melted and thicken slightly. Serve.
Photo: stu_spivack/Flickr (license)