Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bugs Bunny was Right, Eat Your Carrots.

Any of us who grew up watching Warner Brothers cartoons noticed that Bugs Bunny was always munching on carrots.  Now I’ve done loads of gardening in my time, harvested many a carrot, and the bunnies in my yard never touched a one of them.  So, what did Bugs know that my white tailed friends did not?  Nutrition wise, carrots contain beta-carotenes, falcarinol, vitamin A, minerals and anti-oxidants in ample amounts; usually orange in color, there are purple, red, white, and yellow varieties.  Bugs was one healthy rabbit!

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!!!

Carrot Cake


½ cup butter or margarine
1 and ¼ cups brown sugar
2 eggs
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.
Mary Cokenour
Cream Butter with Brown Sugar

Creamed butter and Brown Sugar

Add Eggs

Liquid Mixture

Add Dry Ingredients


Add Grated Carrot, Raisins and Nuts

Final Batter

Use a Scoop to Portion Out

Batter in Paper Cups

Two Dozen Ready for Baking

20 Minutes, Not Ready Yet

30 Minutes, Just Right!