Judy’s Newer Carrot Cake

I made a carrot cake yesterday.  It is basically a cross between Ina Garten’s recipe and David Lebovitz’s recipe.  I brought it to school, and some of the teachers asked for the recipe, and anyone who ate it said it was amazing.

ingredients for the cake (basically from Ina Garten)

 

  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (Ina uses 2 cups)
  • scant 1 1/4  cups vegetable oil (Ina uses 1 1/3 cups but this cake is moist enough without the extra oil.  I used corn oil, but canola would be fine too)
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature (if cold from fridge, place in bowl of warm water for a few minutes)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour (you do not need to sift it)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (not in Ina’s recipe)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I use, but optional)
  • 1 cup raisins (I did not use)
  • 1 pound carrots, grated (I use organic, I peel them, and then grate them in the food processor using the grater attachment)
  • 1 8 oz. can Dole crushed pineapple in natural juice, which I lightly drain pretty well (Ina uses 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple- which I would use, but the crushed in the can is perfectly fine)

ingredients for cream cheese frosting (this is basically from David Lebovitz):

2- 8 oz. packages of regular Philadelphia cream cheese at room temperature

1 – 4 oz stick of salted butter (he uses unsalted)

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (he says a few drops)

about 3 3/4 cups of sifted confectioners sugar (sift first, then measure) (he says 2 to 3cups)

***updated icing (March 2016)- oh my gosh this is amazing and I like it better than my original above)  This has no nuts in the icing!

  • 1 stick salted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 8oz. package Philadelphia (full fat) cream cheese (room temperature)
  • about 2 1/2 – 3 cups confectioners sugar (I didn’t sift as it seemed very fresh and lump free.)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

directions for the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 by 13 pan with butter.  I use the rectangular pan because it’s so easy, but you could make this as a layer cake as well (which Ina does).

Place dry ingredients- flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix with rubber spatula- just to blend everything together.

Beat sugar, oil, and eggs in large mixing bowl of electric mixer with paddle attachment till it becomes light and a little fluffy.  Then  add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just till blended.  Add crushed pineapple and nuts and mix a few seconds till blended in.  Add carrots, and fold in by hand.  Pour all into greased pan.

Bake about 50-60 min. till toothpick comes out clean and sides of cake are separated from the pan.  Cool on wire rack.

Frost when totally cool.  I like to put the cake in the fridge after it’s cool and get it really cold before I frost it because if the cake is still slightly warm when you frost it, the frosting starts to  melt into the cake.

directions for the frosting:

When cream cheese and butter are totally at room temp (this will prevent lumps in the frosting), put them in large bowl of mixer with the wire whisk attachment if you have it- otherwise use the regular beaters or paddle attachment.  Mix on medium speed till light and fluffy. On very low speed add the sifted confectioners sugar and salt. Gradually raise the speed and blend until lump-free. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix till light and fluffy.

Use a rubber spatula to frost the cake.  Even though this makes a ton of icing, I use it all. You will have a nice thick layer of icing on the cake, but that’s what makes the cake.

Note:

I have eliminated the nuts in the cake and used them in the icing.  That’s really good, too.

Healthy And Delicious Roasted Haddock, Flounder, Halibut, Or Scrod

I made a simple fish dish for my son Danny and me this week.  I am experimenting with fish, and I am determined to cook fish at least 3 times a week to improve our diet.  I bought haddock fillets, which were unbelievably fresh, at my supermarket for only $5.99/lb.  I try to buy whatever is freshest and cheapest, normally.  Why not?  What is so great is that I can get this gourmet meal on the table in no time at all with such simple preparation.  I served the fish with fresh corn on the cob and a simple salad using prewashed fresh spinach and baby romaine, sliced strawberries, walnuts, and my own lemon vinaigrette. (You can find my recipe for this vinaigrette right on this web site.)  What an amazing light, healthy, and flavorful dinner!

for two people:

1 pound fish fillets (I buy whatever is on sale and absolutely fresh!)

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, butter, or margarine

2 tablespoons slivered raw almonds

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Cover a half sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Lightly grease foil with oil. Place fish on foil.  Sprinkle  with salt and pepper, then liberally with lemon zest, then with thyme leaves, then with almonds, then dot with butter or margarine or drizzle with olive oil.  Roast for 7-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.  If you like, you can then place fish under the broiler for a minute or two at this point to just brown the almonds.  Be careful, if you do this, not to burn the fish or the nuts.  Serve with lemon wedges.

My Mother’s And My Outstanding Strawberry Shortcake

Of all the cakes I have ever eaten or baked in my life, this strawberry shortcake is the best! This recipe of my mother’s is indescribably delicious. It was a family tradition for my mother to bake this strawberry shortcake every year for our annual Father’s Day barbecue. Everyone waited for my mother to bring this masterpiece of a cake to the table. When I got married, I started to bake this cake. At my beautiful daughter Randi’s first birthday party, I actually baked three of these cakes because we had quite a crowd of people. Anyway, this cake is so beautiful and so delicious that it could win any first place prize at a country fair. The layers are light and airy and so delicious. The filling, which is just whipped cream and sugar with some fresh strawberries and crushed pineapple is dreamy. This strawberry shortcake takes some time, but if you go step by step, you will succeed at creating a dazzling dessert that people will applaud you for.

for the cake:

  • 1 cup cake flour (sift first, then measure)
  • 6 extra large eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (1/2 cup and 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons cold water

for the filling and the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 pints heavy or whipping cream
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 quarts strawberries
  • 1 16 oz. can of crushed pineapple in its natural juice , drained very well

to make the cake: (You can make the layers in advance and freeze them!)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. I use 2 round 9 inch baking pans with removable bottoms. If you don’t have that type of pan, then place a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of your 8 or 9 inch round pans. Do not grease the pans!

Separate the eggs. Set aside. Sift and measure the cake flour. Put it into a mixing bowl with the salt and baking powder, which you mix with a fork or whisk just to evenly distribute the baking powder and salt.

Beat egg yolks in large bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high until they have thickened are are pale yellow-about 5 minutes. Add the cold water and vanilla; beat again until thick -about 3-5 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar; beat again for another minute. Add the flour mixture on very low speed just until mixed in. Set aside.

In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on highest speed just until they form soft peaks. Then add the other 1/2 cup suar and mix 30 seconds more until they just start to form stiff peaks. Gently, fold the meringue (the beaten egg whites with sugar) gently into the flour and egg yolk batter with a rubber spatula until you can’t see the whites anymore. Be patient while you do this; it takes about 5 minutes. Pour the batter into the two ungreased pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes in the center of the oven until cake springs back when you touch it, the cake has started to separate from the sides, and it is slightly browned on top.

Cool cakes on wire racks. When cool, take cakes out of pans by running a knife around the edges of each pan. If you are using pans with removable sides, then remove the sides and run a sharp non-serrated knife under the cake to separate it from the pan.

Let cool completely. Then slice each layer in half horizontally using a good serrated knife so that you have four layers. You may either wrap the layers well and freeze them to use in the future, or you can just wrap them well, and refrigerate them until you are ready to assemble the cake.

to assemble the cake:

Drain the pineapple very well by putting it in a sieve, and pressing the juice out of it with a spoon. Set drained pineapple aside. Then wash the strawberries. Place them on paper towels to let them dry. Cut the green tops off them. Reserve enough of the prettiest berries to place whole on top of the cake (about 1/2 quart or 1 pint). Then slice the remaining strawberries and set aside in a bowl. Place the whisk attachment or your beaters in the freezer along with the bowl you will be whipping the cream in and the spatula you will be using. Let those stay in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Put the cream in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Then take everything out of the freezer. Pour the cream into the bowl. Pour about 2 tablespoons of the sugar in with the cream. Put the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on the highest setting, and beat. After about 45 seconds, pour the remaining sugar in. Continue beating until the cream is whipped. It should not be liquidy or loose at all at this point.

Place one cake layer on a pedestal serving dish that is large enough to hold it. Spread some whipped cream on the layer, about 1/4 inch high. Then sprinkle about 1/3 of the sliced strawberries on the layer. Place the second layer on top of the fruit. Spread more whipped cream on the second layer. Evenly distribute all the crushed pineapple and some of the sliced strawberries on top of the whipped cream. Place the third layer on top of the fruit. Spread whipped cream on top of the cake. Evenly distribute the remaining sliced strawberries over the whipped cream. Place the final (fourth) layer on top of the fruit. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and on the sides of the cake. Then place the whole strawberries all over the top of the cake. The pointy side of the berries should be on top. Refrigerate until you serve the cake.

Note #1: If you find you don’t have enough whipped cream to frost the sides of the cake, leave the sides alone, and the cake will look beautiful that way as well.

Note #2: If you are baking the layers and freezing them to use at a later time, wrap them separately first in a good layer of plastic wrap, and then place each layer in a good ziploc plastic bag.

My Cousin Janie’s Moist And Delicious Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

You Can Learn To Make This Yummy Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting – Even If You Think You Can’t Bake!

I adapted this recipe from a recipe for carrot cake that I got from my wonderful cousin Janie Hindes Miller.  I have so many wonderful childhood memories associated with Janie; she was my closest childhood friend.   Janie is a wonderful cook and baker, but much more than that, Janie is a wonderful person.  For as long as I can remember, Janie has been making this carrot cake for yearly family  gatherings, and everyone goes crazy for it.   For me it was love at first bite when I tasted it, probably back when Janie and I were about 16 or 17 years old.  This carrot cake is a breeze to make, especially if you bake it in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  This is a wonderful recipe for a novice  baker.

for the cake:

  • 1 pound peeled and grated carrots (use organic if possible)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (I have now reduced the sugar to 1 3/4 cups- you will not detect the difference)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 extra large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups light olive oil, canola or corn oil (or reduce to 1 1/4 cups- I like the cake more with this reduced amount- June 1, 2010)
  • 2 cups unbleached flour (I prefer to use King Arthur organic unbleached flour, and you do not sift it for this recipe!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

for the icing:

  • 8 ounces Philadelphia brand cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine at room temperature (best-using unsalted butter- June 1, 2010)
  • pinch of kosher salt (only if you are using unsalted butter or margarine)
  • 1 pound of confectioners sugar, sifted to get any lumps out
  • 1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces chopped- not too finely – pecans or walnuts- or mixture of the 2 (optional)(June 1,2010)- nuts make the cream cheese frosting better
  • 1- 8 oz. can of drained crushed pineapple in natural juice (optional)- but I prefer icing now without pineapple and only with the nuts!- June 1/10)

***updated icing (March 2016)- oh my gosh this is amazing and I like it better than my original above)

  • 1 stick salted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 8oz. package Philadelphia (full fat) cream cheese (room temperature)
  • about 2 1/2 – 3 cups confectioners sugar (I didn’t sift as it seemed very fresh and lump free.)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

for the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Spray or grease sides and bottom of  a 9 x 13 inch nonstick baking pan; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, measure flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.  Wash, peel, and grate carrots using a hand grater or a food processor fitted with the grater attachment- I use the food processor- it takes no time at all!); set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, by hand using a whisk, mix eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla, just until completely blended.  Then add dry ingredients to the wet batter, and mix just until blended.  Add carrots and fold them in with a rubber spatula.  Pour batter into prepared baking pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes on a rack in center of oven until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack, or refrigerate covered with plastic wrap until you are ready to frost it.

for the icing: (wait till cake is completely cool before you ice it)

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese with the butter just until mixture is smooth.  Sift confectioners sugar right in the bowl,  add pinch of salt, and blend on low speed just until blended.  Add vanilla and blend.  Use rubber spatula to mix in nuts by hand if you are using them.  If you are adding the crushed pineapple, be sure to squeeze as much moisture as possible out of the pineapple and then blend it in with a rubber spatula because you don’t want to add any extra liquid to the frosting.  Spread frosting on cooled cake.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you serve.

Note #1:  You can bake this in  a 9 x 13 inch pan or 2- 8 or 9 inch round pans to make a layer cake.

Note #2:  You can buy Diamond brand prechopped walnuts that come in a bag and can be found on the baking aisle in the supermarket.

Note #3:  Do not squeeze moisture out of carrots (I have never done that!)

This cake can be baked one day ahead and refrigerated until served.

Judy’s Famous Birthday Cake – My Family’s All Time Favorite Cake!

 Bake this incredible white cake with rich chocolate frosting for any special occasion! 

I have three children. Randi is my oldest; she’s 25 years old. Next is Danny- he’s 22. And last but definitely not least is Benji- he’s 18. When my children were little, I started the tradition of cooking a special birthday dinner for them, which of course had to include a birthday cake. I adapted this recipe from a recipe of my mother’s (Nana to my kids).   I have so many wonderful memories of all these birthday dinners that all ended with this amazing cake. The combination of the fluffy, buttery cake with the incomparable dark, glossy, chocolaty icing is so good, you will not be able to stop eating it! I know one thing for sure. To this day when I bake this cake, even though my kids are pretty much grown, they still fight over who’s going to get to lick the spatula or the bowl when I make the icing! I promise you – if you make this cake once for your family, you will want to start your own family tradition of making this cake for your children’s birthdays!

Continue reading Judy’s Famous Birthday Cake – My Family’s All Time Favorite Cake!