One of my favorite things about turning 42 year old is that I have a child who is mature enough to independently bake me the cake of my choice. My almost 14 year old daughter approached me a few weeks ago and inquired about my perfect birthday cake. Last year she made me an Oreo Cookie Cake, but this year she wanted something a bit more challenging. After considering The Smitten Kitchen's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake which I've been drooling over for two years and The Cake Mix Doctor's Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Fudge Marshmallow Frosting which is featured in my favorite cake cookbook, I remembered that I love carrot cake. I had pushed this fact to the outer recesses of my mind because none of my kids thought that they liked carrot cake and I often make the family friendly choice, but not this time.
The conditions for my daughter preparing me a fresh Carrot Cake for my birthday were that I had to stay out of the kitchen and resist all urges to control her baking. ("Seriously? As if!") My daughter gathered her ingredients and I headed to my bedroom where I had set up my own personal scrapbooking retreat. I turned on the 80's music channel and tried to ignore the discussions between my husband and the teenage chief baker and pay no attention to the crash that I heard about twenty minutes into the birthday cake baking process. I later discovered that my daughter chose the microplane grater or great grater, as she calls it, to prepare the carrots. My husband suggested the box grater but they couldn't find a cutting board and the box grater slipped causing a mess. She then went back to the great grater. She grated carrots for 35 minutes! Can you feel the love?
The recipe that my daughter was following comes from The Fisherman's Inn Cookbook which my husband had given to me upon returning from his recent trip to Maryland. It is filled with good old Eastern Shore recipes as well as memories and history of one of my favorite restaurants, Fisherman's Inn. The Carrot Cake recipe from page 332 calls for not only carrots, but also shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, and crushed pineapple. It also includes my very favorite, Cream Cheese Frosting.
After a few hours of baking, a little bit of tidying, and only one minor catastrophe, my daughter presented my family and I with a beautiful and delicious Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. I was already impressed with her confidence and poise in the kitchen, but after tasting my birthday treat I was overwhelmed by her skill. My daughter can bake a cake! It was luscious! In fact, I would say it is the best Carrot Cake that I have ever had. The cake was moist and flavorful with just the right amount of texture. It turns out that the great grater was a wonderful choice for preparing the carrots. Although my daughter's arm was sore for days, the finely shredded carrots were so delicate that they added nice carrot flavor without being tough and were palatable to even the youngest members of our family.
So far, being 42 years old is outstanding! I have a family that loves me, a new cookbook that connects me to my home state of Maryland, and a daughter that can bake me any cake I desire, including homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting!
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
closely adapted from the Fisherman Inn's Cookbook by Betty Thomas Shulz
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups oil
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
- Beat sugar, oil, and eggs with an electric mixer until well blended.
- Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, until flour mixture is fully incorporated.
- Fold in carrots, pineapple, coconut, walnuts, and vanilla.
- Bake in two 9-inch round pans or one greased and floured 13 x 9 inch pan.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes (round pans) or 44-55 minutes (rectangular pan). Cake is ready when a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool for 15 minutes in pan on wire rack.
- Remove from pan and cool completely before frosting.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 box (1 pound) powdered sugar
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Mix all ingredients until smooth. Add a tablespoon or two of milk if frosting is too thick.
- Spread over cooled carrot cake.