Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing, or: Adult Cake


As I mentioned in my last post, I had to make two cakes for C’s first birthday party.  A “baby cake” that was healthy and delicious, and an adult cake that was just plain delicious.  This was my first carrot cake from scratch, and it was a big success.  In fact, Pete (who is often a tough customer) loved it so much that he told me that I wasn’t allowed to send any leftovers home with anyone, because he was going to finish it all.  I think that qualifies as a hit.

Here it is:

  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir in carrots and pecans.  Pour into pan.
  3. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  4. Icing:  In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake.

Healthy Banana Applesauce Cake


For C’s first birthday, I made a healthy, no-sugar-added, banana applesauce cake.  I found the recipe in a book at the Ontario Early Years Centre and changed it a bit (it was originally a muffin recipe that did call for white sugar and didn’t include cinnamon or vanilla).  I’ve been making it regularly ever since, and C loves it.

Of course, when my sister heard that there would be a healthy, non-sugary cake at C’s birthday party, she asked: “Um, will there be a cake for adults, too?”  So I made a carrot cake from scratch as well.  Whew!

Here is the recipe for the baby’s birthday cake:

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 ripe bananas, mashed

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2) In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

3) In a medium bowl, combine bananas, egg, applesauce, oil and vanilla.  Stir into flour mixture until just combined.

4) Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes of until a tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Let cool in cake pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.


How to Camp with a Baby


Pete and I took C camping recently, and we all survived.  We didn’t forget anything (unheard of), the weather was fantastic, we managed to hike 18 kilometres over three days, and most importantly, no one got eaten by a bear (although there was a bear trap set up two campsites away from us!)

Everything fits! Barely.

So now I feel qualified to offer camping-with-baby tips to others.  I’m kidding.  Every baby is different, and every camping trip is different.  But I did learn a few things on our first trip that could be helpful for anyone contemplating a similar adventure.

Pete and C playing in our dining tent.

1) Bring new toys.  Alternatively, take some toys out of rotation for a few weeks before the trip and bust them out at the campsite.  I realize that this is a well-known tip, but we forgot to do it so it stands out in my mind as an essential one.

2) Find as secluded a campsite as possible.  We were car-camping, but we managed to book a walk-in site that was set back from the road by about 15 metres.  That makes a big difference for a baby’s sleep quality.

Where the napping happens.

3) Camp in the radio-free area.  These campground areas tend to be a little quieter, though that’s not always the case.  For instance, there was a group of three 20-something guys on a site across the road from us who retired to their massive tent at about 6:00 pm one night.  They were REALLY loud in there and we couldn’t figure out what was going on, until Pete walked past their site to fetch some water.  He came back and told me he thought they were playing Risk in there, because he heard something about a “clean sweep of North America.”  Good times.

Hiking Booth’s Rock Trail in Algonquin Park

4) Don’t fall for baby tricks.  Our first night, we were worried that the baby wouldn’t sleep well, so we went to bed early.  We hunkered down before it was even completely dark out.  To our surprise, the baby slept through the night and got up, happy and bright-eyed, at about 7:30 am.  Amazing!  We decided that she was a natural camper and that we should probably celebrate that fact with a late-night campfire and some drinks.  Do you see where this is going?  We were up every two hours with her that second night.  And she was up for the day at 6:00 am.  She won that round.  Well played, C.

Doesn’t Pete look exhausted? Lesson learned.

5) Enjoy the trip for what it is.  I used to go on a few interior canoe camping trips every summer.  What we did with C in July was very, very different from those portaging trips.  But that’s okay.  We’ll do those sorts of trips again someday.  And then we’ll probably miss these little trips with baby C.  It’s amazing to watch a baby experiencing the natural world for the first time.