I’ve had the baking bug for two months now. It happens every time its starts gearing up for spring. But with my stomach still on the fritz, I didn’t know if I wanted to bother.
Without fail, every Spring I make a Hummingbird Cake. It’s a tradition of mine that I’ve held fast to for the last 4 years, and it’s an important one for me; it’s my little light in the darkness. My personal, private celebration. And it’s delicious. Suffering from a persistent case of Gastritis, though, kinda puts a hamper in baking traditions.
“I don’t know if I’ll even be able to eat it, so what’s the point in baking one?” I ask myself at 2 am, scrolling through Pinterest and salivating over the never ending stream of perfectly decorated cakes.
My ability to eat cake may be questionable at this moment, but my Husband also likes cake… So when the baking bug eventually got to be too much to handle I finally broke down and asked him what kind of a cake he wanted instead. That way, at least, I knew it wouldn’t go to waste if my stomach decided to reject yet another of the foods I love so much. And ever the helpful, loving Husband he decided on a cake I’d never actually made before- but which happens to be my Mother In Law’s favorite: Carrot Cake.
More of a surprise to me than his choice of cake was that fact that I actually had all the ingredients on hand. The one thing I didn’t have? A recipe. So I took to my trusty old friend, Pinterest, and started looking for one.
Y’all… Let me just say right now that people put some pretty weird shit in their Carrot Cakes. I saw everything from Raisins and Currants, to Applesauce, and even Pineapple getting thrown in them, and I’ve never been more horrified in my life; don’t get me wrong. I love me some Raisins and Applesauce. I love me some Pineapple, too- especially in a Hummingbird cake. But I ain’t making a Hummingbird Cake, I’m making a Carrot Cake… And some things just don’t belong in one.
Thankfully, though, I did eventually manage to find one from the lovely Amy in the Kitchen. It looked good, but more importantly? It wasn’t that weird “Carrot Cake” that seems to be so strangely pervasive on the internet for some God awful reason. It was just a good, old fashioned Carrot Cake the way I remember them.
So I chose Amy’s recipe to work from and followed it… Well, for the most part at least. I am me, after all, and I can’t leave any recipe well enough alone whenever I cook. I didn’t make too many changes to it, however. Just two or three important ones.
First: The only thing missing on her ingredients list was Molasses, so I fixed that by adding in 1 tbsp of it in when I made my version; I very distinctly remember someone in my family always adding a tablespoon of Molasses any time they made a Carrot Cake when I was younger (unlike Raisins), but no one else I’ve come across ever seems to do so.
Second: Instead of just adding in the whole eggs, I separated the whites from the yolk and whipped the whites into a stiff Meringue before folding it in last; I always hear that Meringue gives a better, lighter texture to cake so I decided to give it a shot this time.. And after experiencing the resulting cake? I can very confidently say I’ll always whip my whites into Meringue now.
Third: I also used more carrots than her recipe calls for- about 4 1/2 cups total; if you don’t like carrots in your Carrot Cake… Why are you even eating Carrot Cake?
The biggest difference really was in how I iced the cake; Cream Cheese icing is pretty standard for cakes like this… I wanted something a bit more interesting, though, so I opted for three different icings instead. However, neither my Husband or I really like cakes that are slathered in 30 layers of super sweet icing- regardless of what type of icing it is. So I cut down on a lot of the sugar in the ones I did make, and opted for less icing overall.
For between the layers (since it was a 2 layer cake), I made a Cream Cheese Icing. I used half a block of cream cheese, 1 tbsp of butter, plus about 1/4 a cup of powdered sugar. I also flavored it very lightly with Blood Orange zest and a little of the juice.
For the rest of the cake, I left the outside un-iced but drizzled a generous helping of White Chocolate Ganache (1/4 cup milk to 1 bag White Chocolate Melts) over the top and let it drip down the sides. After that, I used a Caramel Sauce (which we usually use for our Lattes) to do a sort of cross hatch on the top… And finally, I decorated the top by piping on not-very-flower-looking-flowers with a different Cream Cheese frosting. This one was made with the other half of the same block of Cream Cheese and 1 tbsp butter, but only had 1 tbsp of the Powdered Sugar in it.
I did skip the Walnuts during decorating. That might be blasphemous to some, but I just don’t like them on my cakes. I’m nutty enough myself as is; I’ll usually at least decorate with them, then scrape them off whatever piece I cut for myself… But I didn’t feel like scraping them off this time like I usually do so I just left them off entirely this time.
Save the icing? It tasted just how I remember Carrot Cakes tasting when I was younger; it was sweet, moist, and airy on the inside- and instead of being overpowered with ten pounds of sweet icing that made it sickly like those store bought ones? The only lightly sugared icings added a nice tang to it from the cream cheese and the citrus. The Chocolate Ganache and Caramel was a good call, too, and rounded out all the flavors pretty nicely.
The result was probably the most delicious Carrot Cake I’ve ever had; I think this recipe and its associated icings might become permanent members of the Boyett family Recipe Book.