Last year I made carrot cake the same night of the series premiere for Boardwalk Empire. My friend Andrew called it “Boardwalk cake.” The name stuck, and now we have a nice (though weird) tradition.
I only plan on making this cake once a year. With no food processor handy in my humble abode, shredding the carrots is a daunting task that has left me needing band aides both years. However, even if it is just as unhealthy as any other cake, which I suspect it is, it is such a nostalgic and fun cake to eat. No- I don’t have fond childhood memories of carrot cake, but something about it just makes me feel like everything is okay and I am right where I am supposed to be.
This year, I made a different icing. I added some lemon zest and lemon juice. Definitely adds a good amount of zing. My roommate Chris responded to his first bite with, “The frosting is interesting.” At first I took this as an insult. Interesting? But he assured me that it was good, and his finished plate confirmed his assertion. The added flavor seemed to capture the attention of other taste-testers as well, all of whom appeared to enjoy it. I draw the conclusion that the recipe is a keeper, but be cautious. Perhaps tone down the lemon if you want a more mild flavor. On the other hand, the vibrant frosting helped me with quantity control. With so much pow in a bit, just a little slice was perfect.
Old Fashion Carrot Cake
Bon Appétit, March 2001
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups finely grated peeled carrots
1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour sheet pan or two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, oil and eggs in large bowl until well blended. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt; beat until blended. Stir in carrots and walnuts. Divide batter between pans.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 32 minutes**. Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife between pan sides and cakes to loosen. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.
Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup icing over. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate cake 1 hour or up to 1 day. Serve at room temperature.
**Directions for two cake pans. I baked a single layer cake and it took about 45 min.
Cream Cheese- Lemon Zest Frosting
Whip the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until combined and airy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla.
Sift the powdered sugar onto a piece of parchment or wax paper. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sifted powdered sugar into the frosting (use both hands to bend the paper so the sugar pours slowly into the bowl).
Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. If the frosting seems too soft to spread, allow it to chill for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.