Sunday, July 6, 2008

Have your cake

Carrot Cake

We'll be snacking on birthday cake for a few more days. The carrot cake this year includes both almonds and pecans (toasted), for a supreme nuttiness. The cream cheese "icing" is almost more like a thick glaze. I habitually add the zest of one orange and a bit of juice. I've read discussions online in which people claim carrot cake is inferior to spice cake, dry, not carroty enough or too carroty, but I think this recipe from Cook's Illustrated Magazine solves those problems perfectly. One key seems to be in the use of a food processor to emulsify vegetable oil into your wet mixture before stirring in the dry ingredients and shredded carrots. Don't give up on carrot cake until you've tried this one. Unless you just don't like carrots at all, in which case I can't help you. I really can't help you.

I can understand Dan's desire for carrot cake on his birthday each year. His birthday cake should, after all, be to his specifications. This rule was impressed on me at an early age. When I was a kid (and youth, etc.), everyone in the house who was old enough to choose got to pick her or his birthday cake each year. I remember my dad choosing chocolate pudding cake for his birthday many times. That's a cake that still seems like magic to me, as it creates its own sauce while it bakes. It's two desserts in one! And it's perfectly appropriate for a birthday in an often-chilly month.

I quickly settled into a routine of requesting Mississippi Mud Cake. Some versions of this cake include coffee, but my mom's was fudgy chocolate and marshmallow creme. We lived near the Mississipi for 10 years, so I know that in reality the river mud is neither that tasty nor desirable. I'd rather squish my toes in the cake any day. As an adult, I know that this cake also represents a loving sacrifice on my mother's part, as she did not particularly like marshmallow creme. She must have enjoyed my birthday cakes more when I was younger and hadn't settled on my repetitive choice.


Yum. Chocolate cake. That's still okay with me, too.

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