Citizens! It is a foregone conclusion that the sweet tooth possessed by the unmatched TFD is, well – UNMATCHED! Add in the fact that I am also not a huge fan of the bounty of vegetal offerings proffered by Mother Earth and you get 2 birds killed with one stone in this recipe! There is no finer way to consume a carrot, IMHO, than this – and people have agreed with me for nearly five centuries, it would seem!
The origins of carrot cake are disputed. Published in 1591, there is an English recipe for “pudding in a Carret(sic) root” that is essentially a stuffed carrot, but it includes many elements common to the modern dessert.
These include shortening, cream, eggs, raisins, sweetener (dates and sugar), spices (clove and mace), scraped carrot, and breadcrumbs (in place of flour). Many food historians believe carrot cake originated from such carrot puddings eaten by Europeans in the Middle Ages.
This evolution is said to be originated during the Middle Ages when sugar and sweeteners were expensive for most individuals and often hard to find, so many people used carrots as a substitute for sugar.
In volume two of “L’art du cuisinier” (1814), Antoine Beauvilliers, former chef to Louis XVI, included a recipe for a “Gâteau de Carottes,” which was popular enough to be copied verbatum in competitors’ cookbooks. In 1824, Beauvilliers had published in London an English version of his cookbook which includes a recipe for “Carrot Cakes” in a literal translation of his earlier recipe.
Another 19th-century recipe comes from the housekeeping school of Kaiseraugst (Canton of Aargau, Switzerland). According to the Culinary Heritage of Switzerland, it is one of the most popular cakes in Switzerland, especially for the birthdays of children.
The popularity of carrot cake was revived in the United Kingdom because of rationing during the Second World War.
Here are some important tips for making a great carrot cake:
USE ROOM TEMPERATURE INGREDIENTS.
Run hot water over the eggs to bring them to room temperature. Stick the buttermilk in the microwave for just a few seconds – it really makes a difference!
MAKE IT IN ADVANCE.
Try to make the cake and cream cheese frosting at least one day in advance. After the cakes bake, allow them to cool completely. Then wrap them really well in plastic wrap and stick each layer in a ziplock freezer bag. Freeze for up to one month. Or refrigerate for 2-3 days. FYI – Frozen cakes are much easier to frost!
Frosting can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 weeks or frozen for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container. Remove the frosting from the fridge about an hour before you’re ready to frost your cake to allow it to come to room temperature.
Tips for the Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting:
Again, it is important that your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature. If your cream cheese is cold, it will be lumpy and those lumps are impossible to get out!
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING FOR PIPING: You will want to get all the wet ingredients combined before adding the sugar. The trick is to NOT overbeat the cream cheese. The more you mix the creamier it gets and the harder it is to pipe. Add the sugar 1 cup at a time to best gauge the consistency as you go.
CREAM CHEESE FOR FROSTING CAKES: When covering a cake with this cream cheese frosting, you can beat for 3-5 minutes additional minutes in your stand mixer. This results in the creamiest cream cheese frosting you will ever try.
My version of this recipe is moist beyond compare and also includes a heretical hint of coconut in the cake, a whisper of almond in the icing and the subtle use of cardamom to supplement the more palate-forward flavor of cinnamon. I also soak my raisins in a sweet dessert wine to both plump them up and give a more complex, adult flavor to the dessert. I prefer Bonny Doon Vin de Glacière dessert wine – which also pairs beautifully with the cake itself. You can buy it here.
The icing can be spread as in a typical carrot cake or piped to make fancy rosettes – the choice is yours, and know that here is a cake for the ages, my Citizens! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo