Baking, for me, is an exercise in patience. I like to keep moving, and waiting two hours for a cake to cool is not something that I tend to schedule into my agenda. This past Sunday, though, waiting was at the top of my list of things to do; the air conditioning guy was going to come by when he could, and I had to be around the house all day. Why not, I thought to myself, make an already-warm house even warmer by turning on the oven? And so I did.
I pulled out that Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that aunts and mothers and grandmothers buy for high school graduates. (The one that I failed to open for a good three years in my days at Ohio University. Why cook when the Burrito Buggy is pretty much always there?) Somehow, though, after all these years, I’ve lugged it from apartment to apartment, throughout Athens and Columbus. And sometimes, I even use it.
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with carrot cake. The bites that I’ve had have been incredible, but due to a slight allergy, I’ve always had to end up spitting out nuts. (Seriously, people, what’s so enticing about throwing nuts into breads and cookies? They mess up the texture, they’re expensive and they make my lips swell up.) The way around the nut, of course, was to make my own, sans allergens.
The recipe was pretty simple; I had everything I needed, with the exception of shredded carrots (I bought the bagged kind; I admit it) and cream cheese for the frosting. I found myself exploring the kitchen through my lens as I waited for the cakes to bake. I like this picture.
I consistently mess up the whole “get the cake out of the pan” process. Better Homes and Gardens suggests greasing the pan with butter and dusting a layer of flour over the butter before pouring in the batter. This technique seemed to work. I hope I remember it the next time I consider baking.
I worked on a wedding invite while waiting for the cake to cool. In the past, I’ve tried to ice cakes while they’re still warm, causing a horrible mess of crumbs and icing, and, ultimately, a ripped up mixture of the two. This is the step where that patience thing really pays off. (I think, in retrospect, that this cake worked out because it wasn’t for anything; it had no purpose.) I applied the cream cheese icing (a delicious blend of butter, cream cheese, vanilla and powdered sugar) and tried to ignore the fact that the stuff was heavily glooping down the sides of the cake. Into the fridge (the only cool place in my house) it went for 24 hours.
Last night, I pulled it out for the official tasting. The icing was perfect, the cake was intact and I was able to take several bites without worrying about nuts. I ate two pieces. The funny part, of course, in my lesson of patience, is that the air conditioning guy never made it to the house on Sunday. And he couldn’t fix my problems on Monday. At least I know I’ll have something to snack on tonight as I wait for cool air to fill my house.
from Better Homes and Gardens
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups finely shredded carrots
1 cup cooking oil
1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe below)
3. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 30 to 35 minutes for round pans or 35 to 40 minutes for 13×9-inch pan or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool layer cakes on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. Or, place 13×9-inch cake in pan on a wire rack; cool thoroughly. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. Cover and store in refrigerator. Makes 12 to 16 servings.
Cream Cheese Frosting: 2 3-ounce packages cream cheese, softened; 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened; 2 teaspoons vanilla; and 4-1/2 to 4-3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar.
Beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Gradually beat in enough of the remaining powdered sugar to reach spreading consistency.