Friday, October 9, 2015

Foodie Fridays: Carrot Bundt Cake

Many long years ago, when I was a young graduate student working on my Ph.D., I had the good fortune of working on St. John, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, studying feral donkeys.  I was there for a year and a half and met many wonderful people, had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and learned a lot of fascinating information about these under-appreciated little equids.  Many of the friends I met were also young and on their own, and we would often have dinner together.  I even became known as the "dessert queen" because my forté has always been baking rather than meal preparation.  One of the recipes I made while there I picked up from a show called "What's Cooking?" on the local television station.  We only got reception for the one station, and I watched this show occasionally on my housemate's little black and white television set ("Magnum, P.I." was the only other TV series I felt compelled to watch sometimes, and doesn't that date me considerably!).

Anyway, back to the recipe.  I liked it for its simplicity, because I am not a fan of adding anything other than nuts to carrot cake (no raisins, and especially no pineapple and/or coconut for me).  I also liked the fact that frosting was optional, and if used it is kept to a minimum, because as much as I love cream cheese frosting I certainly don't need to be eating two cake layers' worth!  The cake is sticky and can be difficult to remove from the pan.  If you make it in a tube pan instead of a Bundt pan this process will be easier because there are fewer nooks and crannies where the cake can adhere, but the Bundt version is more attractive so sometimes I just have to take the added risk.  If your cake comes out of the pan flawlessly you can even omit any topping, but if you must cover up some damage you can either use the cream cheese icing recipe provided or just sprinkle with some confectioner's sugar.  Lastly, I love this recipe because the cake is so moist and tender it really does not require any frosting, and so satisfying that a small slice is all you need.

I actually prefer this version to a layer cake, probably at least in part because this dessert reminds me of those youthful days on St. John.  So feel free to think of tropical breezes, good friends, and floppy-eared donkeys as you indulge in this luscious cake!

Donkey foal on St. John (so adorable!).

Carrot Bundt Cake

1 1/4 C. oil
4 eggs
2 C. sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 C. flour
2 T. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 C. grated carrots
1 C. chopped nuts
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 C. confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 T. milk

Beat together the first three ingredients.  Combine the next four ingredients and add to the wet mixture.  Stir in the carrots and nuts.  Pour the batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for one hour.  Test for doneness with a wooden skewer and continue baking at five minute intervals until the skewer comes out clean (I ended up baking the cake for an additional 20 minutes, I think because my carrots were very moist).  Remove from the oven and cool slightly.  Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Beat the cream cheese until very creamy.  Mix in the confectioner's sugar.  Stir in the vanilla and 1 T. milk at a time.  Add more milk as needed to get the right drizzling consistency.  Pour the glaze over the cooled cake.  Serves 12-16.

Notes: This is a very moist and sticky cake, so grease and flour the Bundt pan well.  Make sure the cake has cooled enough to release easily from the pan.  Do not force the cake out of the pan or it will stick and tear.

On St. John with my mini-menagerie (plus my housemate's sweet
red Doberman gnawing on a coconut!).

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