frosting

Carrot Cake




Dear One, 

I haven’t been sleeping very well for the past few days. 
I’m anxious about what’s going to happen. 
Whatever it is that's coming next. 
The unexpectedness of life is overwhelming. 
Helen Mirren told Esquire Magazine that “The hardest period in life is one’s twenties. It’s a shame because you’re your most gorgeous, and you’re physically in peak condition. But it’s actually when you’re most insecure and full of self-doubt. When you don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s frightening.”

So I don’t know what’s going to happen. 
And it’s got me a little frightened. 
But it’s ok. 

It’s really ok. 


I keep thinking about the past couple of years. 
And all these strangers who have become friends. 
And then I think about all the strangers I don’t know yet, who will someday be beloved. 
And all the things that have happened I could never have predicted. 
It’s overwhelming. 

But it’s been ok. 
Magical, even. 

For instance. 

This blog is five years old.
Five. Years. Old. 
And I only just realized. 
I never dreamed that it would last this long.
So I baked to carrot cake to celebrate. 

And on another note-- how the fuck did carrot cake happen? 
I mean, who decided to put carrots in a cake?
What a perfect example of something so surprisingly and unexpectedly dreamy. 


So for all the unanticipated collisions of wonder and pain and delight I have yet to have, for all the future stranger/friends I have yet to meet, for all the cakes I’ve yet to bake. 

I can’t wait. 
I really can’t wait. 

XOXO


Carrot Cake
from Stir-Ups
This is actually an heirloom recipe from an Oklahoman cookbook called Stir-Ups. From the 60's maybe? I don't know. It's really, truly grand and very, very simple.  And very, very worth your time. 
xo

For Cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
3 cups shredded carrot
1 teaspoon vanilla

For Icing:
1 stick butter
8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box powdered sugar*
best quality maple syrup, to taste

Combine flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon, salt and oil. Beat in carrots and vanilla. Beat in eggs. Pour into two greatsed 9" cake pans, or a 9x13 inch loaf pan. Bake 9" ones at 350F for 30 minutes. Bake 1 hour when using loaf pan. Cool completely.
Icing: Cream butter with cream cheese. Add sugar, vanilla and several tablespoons maple syrup to taste. Beat until well blended. Slather cake. Eat. Immediately.

Embarrassment and Yellow Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Lemon Curd and Blueberries




All my efforts at social suavity tend to fail. 
I'm fine if I don't work at it and if I don't think about it.
But if I do...


Oh Lord Help Me.


What else can you do but laugh? 


Embarrassment is the strangest emotion. You want to die. But you want to laugh as you crawl into the hole you've dug for yourself. 


There are two kinds of awkward people, those who keep their episodes to themselves, and people who tell everyone about said episodes because somehow they believe that this will alleviate the embarrassment. Which it never does. 
Obviously, I'm in the latter category. 


In the past several months, my brain-t0-mouth-filter has been incapacitated. No. That's wrong. 
It's like my brain has been incapacitated. 
To say this is deeply unfortunate would be putting it mildly. 





Awkward Things




1. When you invite yourself along to other people's events,  and then they get annoyed because obviously they didn't invite you for a reason, and then you feel bad because you (wrongly) thought they wouldn't mind.
2. Facebook chat.
3. When you are so surprised by what someone else has said that literally you cannot get words out. I mean, you literally forget how to talk. 
4. Vibrams 
5. Not remembering people's names when they remember yours. 
6. When you accidentally drop the f-bomb as you give a wedding toast, in front of your entire extended family.

The list goes on for a long time but I don't really want to talk about this anymore.

Despite these unfortunate circumstances, I firmly believe that if you offer people cookies they will generally forgive you for all of your lack of social grace. 
Unless of course, you're awkward when you try to force the cookies on them.

Believe me, it's happened. 

More than twice. 

Anyways, the point of this is to say, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT OFFERING PEOPLE CAKE . Because that's even more awkward than offering them cookies. Just, do not even think about it. Cake is messy. Cake has LAYERS. Cake can fall over. Cake has frosting. Just... don't even go there. 
Unless of course, you want to give cake to me, in which case I will be SO forgiving of your awkward flaws, because I like cake more than I like you. 

Or maybe I shouldn't say that.

Awkward.

Yellow Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Lemon Curd and Blueberries 

This is really fine. The cake itself is awesome, dense, light, filling, flavorful. If you're really ambitious you can make lemon curd yourself. I have done this before but it takes a lot of time. I simply used lemon curd from a jar. I am such a cheater.


For Cake
from SmittenKitchen.com


Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, and, in theory, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake (I have yet to audition the cupcakes, shame on me)


4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (480 grams) cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk (475 ml), well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.
Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I like to drop mine a few times from two inches up, making a great big noisy fuss.) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.



Cream Cheese Frosting
from SmittenKitchen.com

Makes 6 cups
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.


Make or Buy Your Own Lemon Curd

Blueberries


To Assemble Cake
Place first layer of cake on serving plate. Spread on a thick layer of lemon curd. Stack on second layer of cake. Frost the entire outside of cake with cream cheese frosting. You will perhaps have some leftover. Decorate creatively with blueberries. CONSUME. 

Raspberry Coconut Cake

The question is, ultimately, how much do you say? 
Do you say too much?
Too little?




And I watch people conduct these elaborate dances around themselves. I do it too.
We talk and we text and we tell and we photograph every moment, because this youth we're living is so effervescent. 




And there are a million mediums to communicate through and with. And sometimes it is too much. Too many heys and howsitgoins and whatareyoudoinglaters and holdonsomeonetakeapictures. 

I want to just stop. 
I want to stop. 

I want to wash some dirty dishes in a real sink. And I want to take a long bath. I want to knead some bread. Or go swimming, arms pulling in long front crawls.  Or wash my dog, only I can't because she's dead. I want to sweep a floor. Or paint. I want to water a garden and smell the wet dirt. I want the real things. The tangible things. The holding, touching, clinking, breathing, sandwich-making parts of everyday life back. Because no one told me that college would make me forget what normal living and life is like. 
I wanted to bake a cake. 

I wanted to bake a cake and talk to myself.


So I did. 





And I combined sugar and butter, and listened to the steady hum of the mixer.
And I measured out flour and baking soda and powder with the little silver spoons. 
And I mixed in raspberries and blackberries and coconut. (Beautiful words!) 
And then I frosted it with cream cheese and sugar.
And then I ate that cake. 
Life is so good. 


It is the sweet simple things in life that are real after all. -Laura Ingalls Wilder


But really. 


xoxo

Raspberry Coconut Cake
adapted from smittenkitchen.com

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, and, in theory, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake (I have yet to audition the cupcakes, shame on me)
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (480 grams) cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk (475 ml), well-shaken
3/4 unsweetened shredded coconut
1 to 1 1/2 cups raspberries or blackberries
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated. Using a spatula, gently stir in coconut and raspberries. 
Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I like to drop mine a few times from two inches up, making a great big noisy fuss.) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Cream Cheese Frosting
from smittenkitchen.com

5 ounces (142 grams) cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces or 42 grams) unsalted butter, softened

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces or 120 grams) confectioners sugar

Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated. Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.

Chocolate Whiskey Rum Bundt Cake


So I just watched the movie High Fidelity for the first time. It's fabulous
My favorite part of the film is this concept about The Top Five. In the film, your Top Five is a crucial part of your identity, a musical litmus test of your hipness, snobbishness and finally, personality. I've been thinking about my Top Five: 

Joni Mitchell     
                                          
















Amy Winehouse
Bob Schneider

And then I'm stuck. I like all these whiny singer-songwriters, and I feel like I need a real BAND to complete my list. The thing is, I love so much, and picking my fifth... It's too hard. Maybe Louie Armstrong, but he's not a band. I kind of have this serious thing for The Rolling Stones. I'm actually reading this book right now: 


It's really interesting. It's also very, very long. He did a lot of drugs.

Anyways, I'm just not sure about who my fifth is.

On a similar musical note, since winter break began, I've rediscovered my adoration of Earth Wind & Fire:


It's kind of embarrassing. 
I love it.

I don't think that Earth Wind & Fire is exactly Top Five material for me. Maybe Top Ten, but no one cares about your Top Ten. I don't think my love of Earth Wind & Fire would impress the music snobs in High Fidelity. Actually I doubt that any of my Top Four + One I Haven't Figured Out Yet will impress anyone, music snob or not. 

Whatever. 

Anyways, I started wondering what's in my Top Five of Favorite Things to Cook/Bake:

Scrambled Eggs
Pies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Homemade Spinach Pasta
Desserts With Rum and Whiskey

Desserts with Rum and Whiskey are undoubtably The Best. There is something about the boozy, luscious quality of the liquor, that when paired with sugar and flour and butter, simply equals perfection. 

This Chocolate Whiskey Rum Bundt Cake is no exception. 


I mean, this cake is basically the reason to have a Top Five of Favorite Things to Cook. 

This recipe calls for American Whiskey, and forgive me, but I am not really a snob about liquor and figured no one would never be able to taste any difference, so I used what was left of our Irish Whiskey and then some Rum, because I really like Rum, and because I couldn't find any American Whiskey in our kitchen.  Anyways, as soon as I had combined this inventive duo with the rest of the batter, my brother informed me that we had a massive handle of Maker's Mark in the pantry. C'est la vie. 


Also, I added frosting, because obviously, a Chocolate Whiskey Rum Cake is not decadent enough. 

Also, did you know you can spell Whiskey two ways? Whiskey with and 'e' and Whisky without an 'e'. 

Who and what are in your Top Fives? 

xoxo


Chocolate Whiskey Rum Bundt Cake
barely adapted from Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl 

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process), plus 3 tablespoons for dusting pan
1 1/2 cups brewed coffee
1/2 cup American whiskey (Or Irish Whiskey or Rum or a combination of them all or whatever)
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, left at room temperature for 30 minutes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 325 F. Butter Bundt pan well, then dust with 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder; knocking out excess.
Combine coffee, whiskey, butter, and remaining 1 cup cocoa powder in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and heat over moderate heat, whisking, until butter is melted. Remove from heat, add sugar, and whisk until dissolved, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and cool for 5 minutes. 
Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
Whisk together eggs and vanilla in a small bowl, then whisk into warm chocolate mixture until well combined. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined (batter will be thin and bubbly). 
Pour batter into Bundt pan. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on a rack. 
Run a thin knife around sides of pan, then invert cake onto a rack. Sift confectioners' sugar over cake OR frost with My Favorite Chocolate Frosting. 

My Favorite Chocolate Frosting


from Allrecipes.com

Adding this frosting unfortunately makes this cake look like a large chocolate doughnut. Which is okay. Only, massive doughnuts however delicious they actually are, are not photogenic or attractive looking. Also, sprinkles are always nice. 

1 cup butter, softened
4 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter. Gradually beat in confectioners sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Add enough milk until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost and sprinklelify.