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The other day I was in a cleaning frenzy and decided to tackle my cookbook shelves – arranging the books from large to small and determining if any of my very old cookbooks could be gifted, sold or donated. I stumbled upon a cookbook my daughter’s class produced in her early elementary school – 30 plus years ago! Actually, Rachel recently connected with a former classmate from this second grade class – both of them are now almost 38-years old, and the friend told Rachel she still makes the carrot cake published in this cookbook – my very own recipe with my handwriting and all! At this point, I have no recollection of who passed this recipe on to me – but I am eternally grateful.
Gazing at the worn spiral bound book, I realized it was a precursor of how Rachel would turn out as an adult. She was an early adapter and defender of the recent Supreme Court Ruling – way before everyone put a rainbow background on their facebook profile page, she was coloring rainbows and hearts. And it never occurred to me back then how talented and artistic my 7-year old daughter would become.
Here is a toast to old recipes, to not abandoning butter and sugar and flour and…to carrot cake. This is still one of my favorites to put together and to eat. It’s a great recipe to make with kids, too. And here is a bigger toast to daughters who become mothers and who teach their mothers about creativity, and who always stay in touch with past friends.
I love this recipe – I changed it from what is in the book by toasting the walnuts and reducing the frosting by one half. I mean, how much frosting is really necessary in one serving? I love this cake so much that I never, ever order carrot cake at a restaurant. I’ve tried it at various places and it always falls short of this old, tried and true recipe. And what you see here, the rectangular sheet cake rather than a beautiful round layer cake, is the result of my need to freeze this for future family gatherings. Yes, it freezes so beautifully.
My Carrot Cake
- 1 ½ cups (yes one and one half!) cooking oil
- 1 ¾ cups white granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsp soda
- 2 tsp aluminum free baking powder
- ½ tsp table salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 cups grated carrots
- ¾ cups chopped walnuts, toasted and cooled
Preheat the oven to 350.
Whisk together the first four ingredients, oil through vanilla. Sift together all dry ingredients and incorporate this into the egg/oil mix. Finally stir in the shredded carrots and toasted nuts. Put everything into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan or two round 9-inch cake pans. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool on a rack and then frost with cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with toasted nuts. NOTE: I cut the frosting called for by half, so if you are into frosting you might want to make double the recipe here!
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 2 Tbsp milk
- ¼ pound powdered sugar (looks like a little over a cup)
- To top the frosting if you’d like: ¼ cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
Mix cream cheese and butter and vanilla until smooth, then slowly add powdered sugar and enough milk to make a thick but spreadable frosting.
Refrigerate or freeze the frosted cake and eat with a tall glass of milk. This tastes great for up to a week, but it never stays around my kitchen that long.