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It’s Ben’s 28th birthday today. He’s not big into birthdays, but I try to do the best I can where he’ll let me. For example, instead of buying him some big present, I bought him a bunch of little stuff, wrapped them, and then hid them around the house so he’d find them throughout the day while I was at work (in the sock drawer, refrigerator, shaving kit). You know, kind of like if you combined the best parts of Easter and Christmas (and took out the religion). I’m sure in six months I’ll find a dusty gift behind the dryer.
And, as much as he minds a big to-do about the day he was born, Ben doesn’t mind consuming carrot cake. At all. With this knowledge, I called up my M’am-Maw and asked for her amazing carrot cake recipe, which is a stunning piece of moist carroty goodness. It’s a show-stopper – the cream cheese icing isn’t too sweet, the cake isn’t too roughly textured, and did I mention that it’s moist? It is more than moist, it is a three-tiered monument to moist things around the world and throughout all time.
Here we go:
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
3 cups shredded carrots
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Before you begin, spray three 9-inch cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Next, cut out three circular pieces of wax paper, place them in the bottom of the pans, and spray them with cooking spray, too. It might seem like a lot to go through so that you cake doesn’t stick to the pan, but don’t forget how MOIST this stuff is.
Next, mix your oil, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients, which you have mixed in a different bowl (flour, carrots, baking soda, salt, cinnamon). Beat for two minutes or so. Separate the batter between your three cake pans and bake them together for about 25 minutes. Keep an eye on it, though, you don’t want it to be dry.
Now the icing:
8 oz of cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar (or to taste, really)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 stick of butter
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Whip the softened cream cheese, softened butter, and vanilla on high. My grandmother first claimed she put in half a stick of butter, then changed it to three-fourths of a stick, then confessed that she puts in a whole stick. This is the major problem with good cooks – hidden butter – so I put in a whole stick and it came out great. I mean, it’s cake — a cake celebrating someone’s first day on earth — let’s not act healthy and cut corners.
Start adding the powdered sugar slowly (with the mixer off when you pour it in) and then whip it as fast as your mixer goes. Keep adding and testing it until you’re happy with the consistency and the sweetness. I think I added about two cups, but I don’t like sweet frosting. If you’re in to nuts, chop some up and add either to the icing in the mixer or after you’ve iced the cake. Since it’s October and since we’re not big nut fans, I decorated mine with candy corns.
A note or two: after you take the cakes out of the oven, place them on a cooling rack for a while before you ice anything. I always get impatient and do it too soon and the icing melts everywhere. Also, make sure all of your baking dishes are nine inches in diameter. Mine were three different sizes and my cake came out looking like the leaning tower of Pisa (see above). Except that it was delicious.