Recipe: Carrot Cake

 (For extra fun, this link tells all about how carrots won World War 2. Impressive little root!)

My family loves this recipe! On birthdays, instead of store-bought cakes (most of which I can't eat because of my allergies) this is our go-to recipe. For rationing purposes, it only used 20 oz of our first week's 48 oz of sugar. It DID, however, use all but 8 oz of our cheese ration, which meant I had to put off our traditional birthday breakfast of cheese strata (recipe coming soon.) Oh, well. It was worth it!

There are two ways to use this recipe: as breakfast muffins, or as a layered cake. I'll give directions for each. The ingredients are the same.

Carrot Cake/Muffins:
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2# finely grated carrots (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup walnuts, optional

Cream cheese frosting:
8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375F for muffins, 350F for cake.

Combine sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract; mix until thoroughly blended. Stir in grated carrots, salt, and cinnamon. Combine flour and baking soda, and nuts if using. Add flour mixture to carrot mixture. Mix gently until completely blended.

 (Forgive the uninspiring pictures. I was in bed with a wicked bad allergic reaction from eating Taco Bell. Daughter made the cake. I dragged myself to the kitchen to snap a couple of pictures, then went straight back to bed.)
In a separate bowl, beat all the cream cheese frosting ingredients together until smooth.

(I have no pictures of this step. I was in bed, moaning with pain. On my birthday. Allergic reactions suck.)

For muffins:

Line a muffin tin with paper or silicone liners. Add 2 TBSP of batter to the bottom of each muffin liner. Drop one heaping tsp of frosting onto the middle of the batter in each cup. I usually use the smaller end of my melon baller (you won't use all the frosting. Don't skip this step; it makes the muffins really moist.) DON'T try to add more frosting or the rest of your batter won't fit. Use remaining batter to fill muffin liners to within 1/4 inch of the top, completely covering the frosting.

Bake at 375F for 18-20, until the muffins are firm to the touch. Don't worry if the frosting oozes out of the top of the muffins. This is normal. Cool muffins on rack for about 10 minutes.

While muffins cool, fill a pastry bag with remaining frosting. Pipe frosting into muffin through hole where frosting broke through the batter. (OR you can do what I do and just smear whatever frosting is left over from "taste-testing" while the muffins bake on top. I'm not Martha Stewart. I don't have time for pastry bags. Don't judge me.)

For cakes:

(I usually double the recipe, both cake and frosting. But then, I make BIG cakes. The recipe undoubled makes a normal-size cake. Double the frosting, though. That's good stuff.)

Crisco and flour two cake pans.

Divide batter between the two pans.

Bake at 350F for about 20-25 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on a rack. Frost between the layers, then the sides and top. Decorative swirl optional.

(Happy Birthday, to me!!)

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