You know, I was going to start today’s post about how carrots have been used in cakes since the medeval times because they’re a vegetable with a high sugar content.  Carrots, parsnips, beets – they were all popularly used in sweet dishes, whereas we now think of them as more savory side-dish.  I was also going to talk about how carrot cake had a resurgance during the Depression and, particularly during World War II because it uses oil rather than precious, rationed butter. 

Instead, I’m going to talk about how even food bloggers have food failures.  In fact, most cooks I know have either a blind spot – something that they just don’t cook because they’re intimidated by it – or something that they just can’t seem to get right.  For me, it’s the cream cheese or mascarpone frosting that goes with carrot cake.  I don’t know why, but for some reason, every time I make it, it either curdles (which is what happened today) or it completely collapses and is nearly liquid.  Maybe I overbeat it – maybe I should make it by hand rather than use my extra-fab KitchenAid mixer.  I’ve tried not stirring it as much, and I’ve wound up with lumps of cream cheese. 

So, I’m going to take a deep breath and try another day.  Maybe you have a cream cheese or mascarpone frosting recipe you like – if so, feel free to use it on this cake.  For me, it’s a 50/50 option – I think it’s as nice with frosting as without it.  In fact, I made it as cupcakes and think that they tasted gorgeous without it.  The combination of olive oil and cardamom gives the cake a luscious depth.

The secret to a great carrot cake is to treat it like a muffin.  By that, I mean, mix your wet ingredients (including the sugar) in one bowl and the flour and other dry ingredients in the other, then pour the wet into the dry and stir until just combined.

Olive Oil Carrot Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 lb carrots, trimmed, peeled and grated
  • 2 cups mixture of golden raisins, currants, prunes, dates, apricots (larger fruit chopped)
  • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 F. If you’re making cupcakes, line 2 dozen cupcake cups with papers.  If you’re making a regular cake, butter and line two 8″ cake pans with parchment paper.  In one bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, then add the sugar and mix well.  Gradually add the olive oil while you’re mixing so that you create an emulsion.  Sift the dry ingredients (flour, leavening, salt and spices) in a large bowl and create a well in the middle.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and half-stir it in before adding the carrots and dried fruit, stirring from the bottom of the bowl to the top, so that nothing sinks.  Pour into the cupcake papers or cake pans and bake.  If making cupcakes, bake for 20-25 minutes.  If making a cake, bake for 40-45 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.  Cool and frost (if you must).

pay no attention to the frosting on the top

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