One day while I was snooping through a local thrift store I found an old paperback entitled “Slow-Crock Cookery” dated 1974. I love old cookbooks especially those produced by a local church or organization. It looked interesting enough to spend the $.25 cents on. This […]
Carrots were used in Europe as an inexpensive sweetener in cakes and puddings dating far back as the Middle Ages. It is no surprise baked goods sweetened and flavored with vegetables and fruits remain a favorite commodity. The Classic Carrot Cake arrived in America in the 20th century as a “healthy alternative” to traditional desserts. The beloved carrot cake can be found in tea houses throughout Britain and cafes across the American continent. The contents of the carrot cake vary with the region and the person making it. For some folks additions like coconut, raisins, nuts and pineapple are a must have. There are those who prefer a spongy moist cake, others a dense cake, a light cake, a plain cake, wheat-free cake, a sugar-free cake, less oil and the list goes on.
For the past three months I have put in countless hours researching this iconic dessert. My question? What makes the perfect carrot cake? Conclusion? There isn’t one. At least not a perfect carrot cake recipe to satisfy the majority of the masses. We all have our own taste. I could post a recipe from the internet with a following of rave reviews but where is the fun in that. I was curious if I could come up with a base recipe that would support the amount of substitutions people would want to make and still be pleasing.
One note I do want to expound on is substitutions. Often times we make the rationale when replacing part of the oil with applesauce that we are making the cake healthier. Fact is the opposite is true. While it is correct that applesauce reduces the fat content it inadvertently increases the sugar content. Ideally if you choose to replace the oil with applesauce or buttermilk, remember to reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup.
Be sure to scroll down to the Variations section for alternative suggestions.
1 1/2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon powder
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
3 cups carrots, finely grated (about 6-7 medium sized)
Cream Cheese frosting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 inch pan.
Spread walnuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Finely chop nuts; set aside.
Wash and peel carrots. Using a box grater or food processor finely shred carrots; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugars until completely incorporated. Drizzle oil in a steady stream while mixing constantly to emulsify.
In a small bowl sift flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Add chopped nuts; mix to incorporate. Gently fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined. (Ribbons of flour are still noticeable.) Fold in carrots until completely combined. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 40-50 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
— Replace 3/4 cup of oil with 3/4 cup buttermilk.*
— Reduce the oil to 3/4 cup to 1 cup.**
*The proteins in milk can produce a tougher crumb in cakes.
**Reducing the oil this much will result in a drier cake. We recommend reducing the oil no more that 1 cup.
— Substitute all-purpose flour for: 1 cup wheat, 1/4 flax seed meal and 3/4 white. OR substitute all wheat, spelt or a combination or whole grain flours.
— Reduce the sugar by 1/2 cup.
— Replace sugar with equal amount of Xylitol or 1 1/2 cups honey or 2 cups applesauce.
— Use equal parts white and brown sugar or all white or all brown.
— Add 2 teaspoons vanilla. (add with eggs)
— Add 1 cup toasted coconut. (add with carrots)
— Add 1 (8-oz) can pineapple, drained and squeezed. (add with carrots)
— Add 1 cup raisins or sultanas – soaked in orange juice or rum. (add with carrots)
— Add 1/4 cup chopped Crystallized ginger. (add with carrots)
— Substitute allspice or pumpkin pie spice for nutmeg and cloves.
— Our carrot cake was baked using a glass 9X13 baking dish. Dark metal or ceramic pans may vary baking time.
— If you live in a higher elevation you might need to make adjusts. Click here for helpful hints.
— To make cupcakes reduce baking time to 20-25 minutes.
Ever wonder what to do with left over bread? Make bread pudding of course! Bread pudding is a lovely addition to a holiday dessert table. Or begin a tradition by serving bread pudding on Christmas Eve with a mug of steamy hot cocoa. Even still bread pudding is mighty tasty for breakfast on a wintry morning.
I used a loaf of European French bread I purchased from the bakery. Cut the bread into bite sized cubes. Spread them out on a baking sheet and left them out, uncovered, overnight. In the morning the bread is just perfect for making bread pudding. Do not use fresh bread because the bread will become too soggy.
When cooking milk for longer periods you would want to stir frequently to keep it from burning the bottom. Milk when heated creates a film on the surface. This film is formed when the proteins attach to a fat molecule. The film then serves in increasing the temperature of the milk underneath. Stirring constantly keeps this film from forming and the milk from boiling over. For this recipe we are just heating the milk. Since we are using the film as a guide constant stirring is not recommended.
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup butter
*2/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (use slightly less for freshly grated)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups french bread, cut into cubes
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
In medium saucepan, over medium heat, heat milk just until film forms over top. Add butter, stirring until butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm.
Combine sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla. Whisk until well combined and frothy. Slowly add milk mixture, whisking constantly.
Place bread in a lightly greased 1 1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with raisins if desired. Pour batter on top of bread. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Serve warm. To serve sprinkle with powdered sugar or a bread pudding sauce.
***Note: If you make the sauce to put on top of your bread pudding, adjust the sugar in the bread pudding recipe, change it to 1/3 cups sugar.
Bread Pudding Sauce:
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp flour
dash of salt
Mix everything together and bring to a boil over medium heat for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside for 5 minutes, then pour on warm bread pudding.
I have learned a few tips over the years relative to baking. I was never very good baking. My pastries were always dry. The whole process was depressing. Then I started watching cooking shows and then my sister-n-law Roxanne gave me the Baking Illustrated cookbook. […]
A couple Friday’s ago Stephen brought home a pumpkin muffin with strussel topping. I was gracious for his thoughtfulness. Now, normally a pumpkin muffin would have sounded appetizing but I just was not that interested. You see last year I went pumpkin crazy. I finally found the much sought after Pumpkin Chip Cookie recipe. Then I went in search for the best Pumpkin Bread recipe. Along the way I found a couple recipes for Pumpkin Pound Cake. Then there was the traditional Pumpkin Roll and Pumpkin Pie on Thanksgiving in addition to a scrumptious Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie. I cannot forget the Pumpkin Whoopie Cookies and pumpkin pie bars, so divine. Lastly, this past spring I found an wonderful recipe for Pumpkin Apple Muffins. I suppose this is why I have been focusing so much on apples this fall.
Still, this recipe for Pumpkin Pistachio Cannoli has been nagging at me. “Please make me!” Cannoli shells can be found in the bakery section of the market . The recipe states that tortillas may be substituted. Tortillas are surprisingly versatile. Mascarpone cheese is a thick spreadable cheese similar to cream cheese. It comes in a small tub usually found in the deli with the gourmet cheese. So grab the kids and get messy making Pumpkin Pistachio Cannoli.
Source: Better Homes and Gardens
1/2 of an 8-ounce carton Mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup chopped roasted pistachio nuts or toasted pecans
1/2 cup whipping cream
12 purchased Cannoli shells*
Powdered sugar or granulated sugar
In a large bowl stir together Mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, pumpkin, ricotta, and pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup of the nuts. Set aside.
In a chilled mixing bowl beat cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold into pumpkin mixture. If desired, cover and chill up to 4 hours To serve, spoon pumpkin mixture into a self-sealing plastic bag. Snip a 3/4-inch hole in one corner. Pipe filling into cannoli shells so pumpkin filling extends from ends. Sprinkle cannoli ends with remaining nuts. Arrange on a serving platter; sprinkle with sugar. Makes 12 servings.
*Note: If purchased cannoli shells are not available, brush one side of sixteen 4-inch flour tortillas (trim larger tortillas if necessary) with cooking oil. Roll, forming a tube shape; secure with a wooden toothpick. Gently place a rolled piece of foil in the center for support. Place on a baking sheet; brush outside with oil and bake in a 375 degree F oven about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Place on a wire rack to cool. Remove foil and toothpicks; fill with pumpkin mixture. Makes 16 shells (allows for breakage).
Wild rice pilaf evokes fall with the warmth of the pecans and mushrooms reminiscent of homemade Thanksgiving stuffing. I love the added protein from the garbanzo beans. They lend a chewy filler without the fat and extra calories associated with sausage. I like to boil […]