Friday, October 15, 2010

Rain Bake

 In Southern California, rain is rare.
So rare, in fact, that if it ever pours,
Los Angelans will panic and declare
That it's not safe to drive or go outdoors.

But, trapped inside, I find a new delight--
The kitchen counters gloominess outside.
The oven warms; rich spices do invite
Attempts at recipes I've not yet tried.

Fresh baking smells might lead you to deduce
I'm prepping for some kind of holiday.
The truth?  A cake is simply my excuse
To make your stormy day a bit less gray.

By bringing friends together, food's endowed,
With silver lining, every dark rain cloud.
Having recently spent time on both sides of the equator, I've had the unusual pleasure of experiencing all four seasons in a one-month time span.  However, this month's biggest meteorological anomaly hasn't been snow one day and sun the next -- it's been plain and simple rain.


I really like the rain!  Taking walks in balmy SoCal showers and exuberantly riotous mid-afternoon downpours makes me happy.  Today, though, the rain is wimpy and chilly and halfhearted, too tired to try.  Umbrellas are taken out, then put away, then taken out again.  Kids in sweatshirts draw up their hoods and shoulders.  A girl in a sundress walks by looking cold and confused.  Everything is desaturated in color and not-quite-saturated in water.


Today is the perfect kind of day for a Rainy Day Cake.  A special pick-me-up, a spontaneous "be happy, friend," a digital "I miss you" (...an apology for neglecting the food blog -- I'm making a movie; I hope you understand!).    Because it's my boyfriend's favorite, carrot cake is the just-because dessert I present to you today.  Because I like creative food, it's got complementary layers and smiley-face icing.  Because it's Pinktober, that smiley-face icing is pink.

Be happy, friend!


Rainy-Day Carrot Cake
adapted from Inside the Kaganoff Kitchen

Ingredients for Cake
  • 3 cups carrots, washed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (I didn't do this, but I should've!)



Ingredients for Pinktober Frosting
  • 8 oz light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp rosewater extract
  • 1.5 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 6-8 drops red food coloring



Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put the carrots in a blender, and blend briefly until you have small, grated-like pieces with a little carrot juice and mush.  This saves tons of grating time, but be careful not to blend too much, or it'll become baby food.

Mix together the eggs, soy milk, orange juice, oil, granulated sugar, and vanilla.  Then gradually add the carrots, flour, baking soda, salt, and 2 tsp cinnamon.  (Also, the walnuts.  Why did I forget the walnuts.)

Grease a 9-inch round cake tin and pour in half of the batter.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  While baking, mix the nutmeg, cloves, and 1 tsp cinnamon into the remaining batter.



After the first layer bakes, remove it from the cake tin and repeat with the remaining batter (or bake both layers at the same time if you have the luxury of 2 round pans).  Let cool.

For the frosting, soften the cream cheese and butter, then combine with the vanilla and rosewater extract using a hand mixer.  Beat in the confectioners' sugar.  Apply liberally to the assembled layer cake, reserving 1/3 cup for decoration.


When you're ready to decorate, mix the food coloring into the reserved frosting, scoop into a ziplock bag, cut a little hole in one corner, and go crazy.


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