Sunday, May 11, 2014

Felicity's Spicy Carrot Cake

Don't worry, this isn't the kind of spicy that sets your mouth on fire!

Happy Mother's Day, everyone! I hope everyone had a stress free holiday and took a chance to tell any maternal figures in their lives how much they mean to them.

Obviously moms are a pretty important part of American Girl books - dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles are too, but moms in particular have always stood out to me as the stand out adult characters. While my favorite is hands down Ruth Walker (Addy's Mom), Martha Merriman reminds me the most of my mother for reasons I've already discussed, and since Felicity is the doll she said she probably would have wanted as a child, it seemed fitting to find a recipe from the colonial era to serve at our family dinner tonight.

The one she picked turned out to be another winner, and while it's not as simple to make as War Cake, it was definitely worth the effort!

The recipe I used was from the same cookbook I used for our Brunswick stew, spoon bread and apple pie, and sounded like it was going to be an interesting thing to throw together. There are definitely a couple other cake recipes in there that sound kind of promising, so you might be seeing some of those in the future as well!

Maybe not the near future, though. Remember when I used to make things that weren't dessert?

While carrots have been used in sweet cakes since the Medieval period, they haven't really been something you could just order in a bakery or restaurant until after the Second World War. That said, they were still being made in homes and given to friends, so while I can't necessarily fully confirm that Felicity would have eaten a cake just like this myself, I do trust the judgment of the people at Colonial Williamsburg, and the finished product definitely seemed like a colonial cake. Why? Don't worry, you'll find out.

The recipe starts off by telling you to put two and a half cups of sugar with vegetable oil, sift together your dry ingredients, and then add four egg yolks to the sugar and oil. I am happy to report that for the first time ever, I managed to separate my eggs without any mistakes or incredibly foul swearing, so I am counting this as a major success.

You add the flour to the wet ingredients (which apparently I forgot to take a picture of), and then add shredded carrot and chopped pecans to the resulting... honestly, I'm not sure what to call this, because it definitely didn't seem like a batter, but really wasn't a dough, either.

The best way to describe what it felt like at this point was wet sand. Mixing it was kind of difficult, and I was a little concerned about what this was going to turn out like, because I can honestly say I've never made a cake that had this kind of consistency before.

Fortunately, after adding beaten egg whites to the mixture, it seemed to get a little more typical cake batter-ish. It was still thick, and I was worried about overworking the egg whites because of how heavy the other ingredients were, but it seemed to work out okay.

I got to try out our fancy new bunt for the first time too, which was nice. It makes a very pretty cake!

I was very relieved to pull a very normal looking cake out of the oven about seventy minutes later.

So, why did this seem like a colonial cake? As I've mentioned in some of my other posts, the historical cakes I've made - and I do mean what we would call a cake, not the colonial cookies Felicity would have called cakes - seem to have a very tough outer crust, and this one definitely did, while the inside was nice and moist. I'm not sure why this is, but honestly, I don't mind it. They keep their shape nicely when you try to pull them out of the pan!

The recipe included instructions for making a lemon glaze that would help stick a garnish of shredded carrots on top. Honestly, I didn't really think this seemed necessary, and I didn't love the way it looked when I was done, but everyone else seemed to like it, so maybe that's just me.

My bigger complaint was that because this was definitely more of a glaze and not a frosting, it spilled all down the sides of my bunt and dripped all over the counter, which made a reasonably big mess. Lesson learned!

So, how did it taste?

Honestly, I don't think this was the spiciest thing I've ever made, but it was still pretty tasty! Even for someone like me who doesn't like nuts in their cakes or cookies, I didn't mind the pecans and thought the texture was pretty great. The center was nice and moist, and while the cake was pretty dense, it didn't sit like a rock in your stomach or feel like a brick when you took a bite.

The biggest fan of the cake was probably my mom! I was really pleased with how much she enjoyed it, especially since this was supposed to be her day. Although it's a little labor intensive, overall, I think this is a pretty neat cake to have in your repertoire and am very glad I thought to give it a shot. I'll also be interested to compare it to any more modern carrot cakes to see how the dish has changed over the years! I guess I'll have to add that to the list of future projects to tackle.

Now to figure out what to do with the leftovers...


  1. Yum! That looks really interesting but tasty!

    1. It definitely was! I was really surprised at how well it came out considering how weird the batter seemed at first, ahaha.

  2. Thank you so much for making this on Mother's Day!!! It was absolutely delicious and I hope we can have it again some day. The combination of spices made me think it might be a nice addition to Christmas desserts. I'd also like to thank you for keeping up with your blog! I know it isn't easy juggling this and your job, but I can personally say (and speak for the family as well) that we love the things you make. Even when recipes don't work out the way you want them to, we all admire your effort and honesty. Thanks again for a special Mother's Day treat from one of my favorite time periods/locations in history. Love you!

    1. You're so welcome! Thank YOU for being so supportive even when I'm being such a cranky pain in the butt!