As a snack, they’re crunchy and this is a satisfying texture; but they’re sweet, and this makes them perfect for other uses. When making pasta sauce, for example, adding a little carrot puree will cut the bitterness of tomatoes, sweetening the sauce. Love caramelized carrots, add butter, heat and let carrots’ natural sweetness do the rest of the work. In baking though, use of carrot sugar is nothing new; in fact, it dates back to medieval times and a nice bit of steamed carrot pudding. During the Middle Ages, sugar was a scarce and expensive commodity, so substitutes were found in carrots and sugar beets.
Now where am I going with all this information on carrots? Cake, of course! The word “cake” has a long history; the origin is Viking, the Old Norse term, “Kaka”; no snickering. A baked confection of flour, eggs, honey, milk, perhaps another type of sweetener, usually a vegetable sugar, and fat; rising up during baking to give a porous texture. Now while many Americans believe that cake was “invented” here first, it was actually brought over by the British. Historically, the Vikings did invade the British Isles, so… Now cream cheese frosting, that’s an American culinary invention from the 1930s; and so perfect on carrot cake (pumpkin and spice cakes too).
The recipe I’m giving you is from, once again, “The Mormon Pioneer Cookbook” by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers; this carrot cake was served with Christmas meals. One of the spices included is cardamom; a combination of plant seed pods from India and Malaysia. Cardamom has a unique, distinctive flavor and aroma; sort of a cross between ginger and mint, and a little goes a long way. While cardamom was seen in cookbooks throughout the 1930s to 1960s; its use faded, but reemerged during the 1990s and 2000s; thanks to the Food Network Channel I bet. This recipe makes one cake; I doubled the recipe and created 24 muffins; much easier for giving out to my favorite guinea pigs. Thank you everyone, you’re the best!!!
½ cup butter or margarine1 and ¼ cups brown sugar
1 and ¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp baking soda (if doubling, only use the ½ tsp., not 1 full tsp.)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
1 and ¼ cups grated raw carrots
1 cup raisins (I used half white/half black raisins)
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans; walnuts are good too.)
Cream together butter or margarine and sugar; beat in eggs. Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices; mix well. Stir in remaining ingredients. Turn into a greased 9-inch tube pan. Bake in a 350F oven 1 hour.
Note: I lined the muffin tins with paper cups; the baking time only took 30 minutes at 350F.
|Cream Butter with Brown Sugar|
|Creamed butter and Brown Sugar|
|Add Dry Ingredients|
|Add Grated Carrot, Raisins and Nuts|
|Use a Scoop to Portion Out|
|Batter in Paper Cups|
|Two Dozen Ready for Baking|
|20 Minutes, Not Ready Yet|
|30 Minutes, Just Right!|