There are certain events in life that pave a path before you, sometimes without you even realizing it. Such events in my life took place around 21 years ago soon after I became a bride. The difficult thing in this is that I had already made plans for my future early in my college years. Studying art and music led me on a course and set my feet to traveling with a band through America and Europe, but my journeying always led me home, back into the comfort of my mothers kitchen, gleaning from her and her mothers passion for cooking and creating a warm atmosphere for their families.
I knew I loved cooking but there was a fear that the course of tying myself to a kitchen would demean the carefree spirit that I had inside of me, needing to be an explorer and adventurer in the world around me. Luckily when I got married my husband and I moved around enough to satisfy and maybe even wear out the adventurer in me for the time. My new adventures were in the meeting and making relationships with woman whom I would bond with and learn from.
What does all this have to do with carrot cake you ask.. I gather it has to do with how I came into possession of this recipe, or better yet this cookbook. I remember one day sharing with a friend, no.. complaining to a friend that my cupboards were a little too bare for comfort. Mind you, I was still a newlywed learning the ropes. Her question to me was, “Do you have flour and eggs?” Well, yes I said! Her life guiding response was, “Bake my friend, bake!” She was an inspiration and from that point on I started baking homemade-yeasted breads, fresh pastas, biscuits and cakes. My Basque hubby was a happy man! I knew this, I had this instruction.. it was in my genes to take the freshest ingredients and create healthy homemade meals.. but I was dead set against being the traditional housewife that was expected of an Italian gal.
My next step was cookbooks. I was given the favorites like Good Housekeeping and The Betty Crocker Cookbook for wedding gifts, I even had my Italian Regional books that were handed down to me, but I was intent on finding the newest and most praised cookbooks on the local shelves. Luckily for me I had a sister in law who knew her way around the cookbook aisles and gave me The New Basics from Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, it became my new best friend and from there I purchased another favorite, The Silver Palate. Love, LOVE these books! They are great teaching books that had sparked my interest in gourmet nouveau cooking. Enter.. this wonderful and moist Carrot Cake recipe that has become a birthday tradition for my husband. He loves carrot cake and of all the recipes I have ever tried, even ones from my mom, this is the best!
Hope you enjoy!!
The Silver Palate's Carrot Cake
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups corn oil
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shelled walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/3 cups pureed cooked carrots
3/4 cup drained crushed pineapple
Cream Cheese Frosting
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting top
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch springform pans.
2. Sift flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon into a bowl. Add oil, eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.
3. Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth tops with a rubber spatula. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake until edges have pulled away from sides and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
4. Cool 15 minutes, then remove sides of pans and place layers still on pan bottoms on cake racks to cool completely, 3 hours.
5. Gently remove layers from pan bottoms and use Cream Cheese Frosting to fill cake and frost the sides. Dust top of cake with confectioners' sugar.
Serves 10 to 12.
Recipe courtesy of The Silver Palate Cookbook, 25th Anniversary Edition, by Julee Russo and Sheila Lukins (Workman Publishing, 2007)