Carrot Cake

I’d rather call this Carrot Bread until Lent is over, if you know what I mean. It’s baked in a loaf pan, it has no frosting, and it’s full of fruit, nuts, and vegetables. It’s practically a baked salad.

Okay, that last part’s a stretch, but if you get a hankering for a lushly textured sweet loaf with a flavor that’s deeply redolent of citrus and spices, this recipe is exactly what you’re looking for. It goes well with after-dinner coffee and breakfast tea and all occasions in-between. I love it.

Start with 1 1/2 cups grated carrots, or about 7 ounces.
Start with 1 1/2 cups grated carrots, or about 7 ounces. Note to self: Figure out a way to photograph a shiny surface without also recording one’s ghostly image.

Ordinarily I whiz this up in a food processor, but when I made it last Saturday my processor parts were gummed up with hummus (see Cookbook Wall entry on 9/3/12), so I grated and mixed the ingredients for this carrot cake by hand. It turned out just as delicious as ever. (FYI: The hand-mixed batter rises less than the processor batter when baked.)

The original version of this recipe comes from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham. This book is one of my stalwarts. I have made so many things from it that were delicious, but I also appreciate the practical design on the insides of the front and back covers. There, Cunningham defined many useful terms, listed essential equivalent measures and useful baking tips, and (my favorite), stipulated a basic pie dough formula that I have used forever. It’s so easy to pull this volume from the cookbook wall and open the cover for my go-to pie dough recipe. Brilliant! Ms. Cunningham, who died last summer at the age of 90, was a champion of home cooks and a culinary idol.

Carrot Cake/Carrot Bread, slightly adapted from Rabbit’s Carrot Cake in The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham, © 1984 by Marion Cunningham, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

1 1/2 cups grated, peeled carrots

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 8-ounce can (1/2 cup) crushed pineapple, well-drained

1 1/2 cups all-purposed flour

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup chopped and toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour two 8.5×4.5-inch loaf pans.

To mix by hand:

In a medium bowl, toss together the grated carrots, drained pineapple, and lemon juice. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Whisk thoroughly. Pour in the vegetable oil and beat well, then add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Stir in the raisins and nuts, and then add the carrot mixture and stir to combine well, scraping the bowl with a spatula to incorporate all elements. Pour an equal amount of batter into each of the prepared pans.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until both loaves test done. Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, and then turn the loaves out onto the rack for further cooling. Serve in slices as is, no frosting necessary.

To mix in a food processor:

Gather all ingredients listed above, but break the walnuts into large pieces; no need to chop. Fit the processor with a shredding disc to grate the carrots.

In a medium bowl, toss together the grated carrots, drained pineapple, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Fit the processor with its knife blade. Into the processor bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Pulse to combine. Pour in the vegetable oil and process to mix well, then add each egg individually, processing between each. With the processor lid off, add the raisins, nuts, and carrot mixture to the bowl. Using your processor spatula or another sturdy utensil, push some of the solids down into the batter so that the processor blade will combine all more efficiently. (Maybe you have a better food processor than I do and this step isn’t necessary.) Pulse until well-combined, but don’t pulverize; let those walnut chunks and carrot shreds show.

Divide batter into pans and bake as directed above.

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