Originally uploaded by wanderingcoyote.
Never been a huge fan of carrot cake. It's always seemed a little...weird, I guess. I mean carrots? In a cake? How fun is that? But, despite my judgements, I am, if nothing else a dessert addict, so if it was all on offer I'd indulge. This week, I had a request from my roommate's sister, who wanted to serve this to guests. Because I'm not a fan of carrot cake, I don't have many recipes for it. When this lady asked me to make the cake, I really had to search for a recipe. I have one from school that has blueberries in it, but the recipe was too big and there aren't a lot of inexpensive blueberries kicking around right now. There's a carrot sponge in one of my professional books, but it was too big, too, and had ingredients in it I didn't have on hand. I eventually found this recipe in Anna Olson's Sugar.
A few words about Anna. Anna has a show on the Food Network entitled Sugar. It was upon watching an episode of this show while on holiday in Vancouver nearly three years ago (where the Food Network is on cable; in Ottawa we needed a cable box) that I discovered there was an occupation entitled "pastry chef." I knew there were bakers, but I'd never really heard of pastry chefs. I knew, upon seeing Anna on TV, that I wanted to be a pastry chef. A couple of days later, I went to hang out on Granville Island, and there I saw the culinary school I would graduate top of my class from a year and a half later.
Unfortunately, fame has changed Anna. I think she's sold out. You can now see her pimping Pilsbury products and Starbucks in ads appearing on the Food Network, particulalry around Christmas time. I noticed also she's lost weight, which she totally didn't need to do, and gotten a new hairdo - probably because of the ads. She now looks more like a sex kitten than the pastry chef I came to love.
This is a fabulous recipe. It's rich and moist, and the cream cheese icing is to die for. Don't substitute any other kind of syrup for the maple syrup; the lady I made this for, who was buying the ingredients, wanted to put pancake syrup in it to cut down on costs, but there's so much crap in pancake syrup, and the flavour would be totally different. This is a really easy recipe to put together, too, and if you have a bored someone or other at home, get him/her to grate the carrots for you.
Pineapple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups grated carrot (approximately 2 medium sized carrots, peeled)
1 cup pineapple diced or crushed, fresh or tinned (drained)
4 oz/125g cream cheese at room temperature (I used light, but you cannot use the fat free kind so don't bother trying; the amount is equivalent to half a brick)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the cake, preheat the oven to 325F and grease & flour an 8" square cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, sugar, maple syrup, and ginger. Sift in the dry ingredients and blend well with whisk or wooden spoon, just be sure not to over mix. Mix in the carrots and pineapple. Pour into pan and bake for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Make sure you cool it completely before icing it.
For the icing, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth./ Beat in the icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread on top of cake and refrigerate until ready to serve.
How hard is that? Not very, and if you have carrot cake skeptics out there like me, I'm sure you can win them over with this recipe.