I am a bit ashamed of myself. It is 6:35 in the morning and I have my finger stuck in a 1/2-inch layer of cream cheese frosting atop a 6-inch wedge of the best carrot cake I've ever eaten. This is the third day in a row that I've done this. It all began on Friday night when we had a pre-Thanksgiving celebration at the home of Anne Kabo in Margate, New Jersey. Anne is one of the best home bakers I know and I shared that with the world on page 318 of Radically Simple. There you can find her radically delicious cheesecake, simple and decadent enough to rival any blue ribbon winner. Everything beautiful Anne bakes is always best-of-show and this weekend alone I had sampled her almond-kissed cranberry "pie" for breakfast, a delicate lemon cake with a gossamer slick of orange icing, the moistest pumpkin-nut bread, and what I now consider...the world's best carrot cake. I am naturally prejudiced (since we love Aunt Anne and Uncle Richard) but not overly so. When it comes to sweets, I can be acutely objective. The fact that I even had room for dessert after the preternatural turkey dinner (that too was delicious -- Brussels sprouts with pine nuts, sweet potato puree with streusel, carrot-flecked stuffing were highlights) was testimony to its value. The fact that I had a second helping was sheer gluttony. Aunt Anne has been making this cake for 25 years with the only change being its shape. It has gone from square to round. I love that it is not iced all over but instead shows off two thick layers glued together with an addictive cream cheese frosting and then topped, as though it was the universe's largest cupcake, with a heavy blanket of much more frosting. There is a little frosting on my computer keys right now.
Aunt Anne was kind enough to share her recipe with all of us. Perhaps you will make it today for your company on Thursday or consider bringing it as a Thanksgiving offering...wherever you may be going.
Anne Kabo's Carrot Cake 4 large eggs 1-1/2 cups canola oil 2 cups sugar 2 cups unbleached flour 1 tablespoon cinnamon 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 3 cups grated raw carrots (use large holes of box grater) 8 ounce can crushed pineapple (in juice), drained well 1 cup black raisins 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 2 rounds of parchment paper and place in each of two deep 8-inch round cake pans. Lightly oil insides of pans. In bowl of electric mixer, beat eggs, oil and sugar several minutes until well blended. In another bowl, mix together, flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Slowly add this mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just blended. Add carrots, drained pineapple, raisins and nuts. Beat until just blended. Bake 45 to 55 minutes until done, and inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool and invert cakes. When totally cool, ice the cakes as desired. (Anne adds a thin layer in the center, a thick layer on top and leaves the sides exposed.)
Cream Cheese Icing 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 1/2 box of confectioners sugar (8 ounces by weight) 1 teaspoon vanilla
In bowl of electric mixer, using paddle attachment, beat together butter, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until thick. Chill briefly if too soft.