Valentine’s Day Cake

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It’s been a very cold winter, and my kids and I have been cooped up a lot. We’ve gone through some bouts of cabin fever. I try my best to keep my toddler occupied, but sometimes we all get bored around here and I have to think of ways to keep things interesting. One thing that I’ve started to do with C is baking. She enjoys it, I enjoy it, Pete gets lots of baked goods. Everyone wins!

Well, not exactly. Baking with a toddler is challenging to say the least. She wants to put all the ingredients into the mix, and sometimes, she wants to put things in that are definitely NOT ingredients (eggshells, spice jars, pens, etc.) But I’ve learned a few tricks along the way and C and I have learned how to bake (mostly) productively together.

Our first “big” baking project together was a Valentine’s Day cake. We had baked some batches of cookies before, but this was the first recipe that was really labour intensive. Because toddlers have very short attention spans, I decided to grate all the carrot and mix the cream cheese icing the day before. This was wise.

The day of, we just measured and mixed and that was about all she could handle. I poured the batter into one square pan and one round pan. When the cakes had cooled, I cut the round pan in two in order to make a heart shape.

I added some food colouring to make the cream cheese icing pink, frosted the cake, and voila! An enormous Valentine’s Day cake for C’s Dad. He loves carrot cake, and was very excited to dive into it.

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After we had each had a slice that night, we realized just how huge the cake actually was, and the challenge that was before us. How on Earth were two people supposed to eat this much cake? I clearly didn’t think this through. I’m already unable to eat a ton of carrot cake due to overconsumption of my sister’s wedding cake. (It’s a long story, but basically the wedding cake was in a corner during the dancing part of the wedding and everyone forgot to eat it – so we ate wedding cake for ages afterwards and the bottom tier was carrot. TOO MUCH CARROT CAKE.)

To make matters worse, Pete came down with a stomach bug a few hours after eating a piece of the cake a few days later. He now has to take a break from carrot cake, due to the association. The moral of the story? I’m not really sure. Don’t bake 75 portions of cake for two people? We’ll go with that.

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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing, or: Adult Cake

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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

Icing:

  • 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.