Friday, February 22, 2008

FOOD FRIDAY!




CARROT CAKE WITH MAPLE-CREAM CHEESE ICING

The Africa Region of the Peace Corps, the office where I worked, was known for its pot-luck lunches. Groups of visitors were constantly cycling through, usually new staff headed overseas, and those lunch blow-outs helped to put a friendly face on the DC bureaucrats (yes, I was one of them) they'd be dealing with.

At times I may have wanted to contribute something else to the lunches, but I was never allowed to. This was always back by popular demand, and the recipe has been shared around the world (at least the Peace Corps Africa world) by now. It's the richest carrot cake you'll ever eat, and that's saying something. It's truly my own invention, a combination of the best features of several recipes. If raisins aren't your thing, leave 'em out. If carrot cake can't exist without nuts in it, put 'em in. About the icing: try to use real Grade B maple syrup for the most intense maple flavor. Unless you're in New England, that can be hard to find even in the best specialty stores. Lacking Grade B syrup, I've been known to add a drop or two of bottled maple flavoring.

Cake :
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated, peeled carrots
1/2 cup white raisins
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained completely
1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger

Icing:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B

For the cake: Preheat oven to 350F. Oil bottom and sides of a large (approximately 8” x 12") rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon to blend. In larger bowl, whisk sugars, oil and buttermilk to blend. Whisk eggs into sugar mixture 1 at a time. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just blended. Stir in carrots, raisins, pineapple and ginger. Pour batter into prepared baking dish.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Cool cake on rack completely.

For the icing: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until creamy. Beat in maple syrup. Spread on cake.

2 comments:

Zoey & Me said...

God that sounds delicious. Better than your fries? Those were absolutely great, hello Pappy Parker Fried Chicken. That's what I wished for when I ate them. I'll try this one. You apparently made out better than my daughter, Rebecca, who spent her Peace Corps stint in Chivona, Zimbabwe. Recipes from there are close to road kill. Couldn't stand em. But her, Ralph, thanks for this one, I love Carrot Cake.

Ralph said...

Hey, Z&M, I'm glad the potatoes worked out! Let me know if you make this!