The Carrot Cake Caper

Nobody in our family knows exactly where my late mother got her carrot cake recipe, but it’s a good one. For years she made it for every special family occasion. In fact, when she died, the son of a close family friend leaned over to his mother at the funeral and asked “who’s gonna make the carrot cake at Thanksgiving now?” As it turned out, my sister Susie stepped right into the carrot cake-baking role. The first Christmas after Mom was gone, we were all down at her house–including Wyatt, our English setter. Susie baked the three carrot cake layers, and she and I went out to do some last minute Christmas shopping. When we got back, we noticed that one of the cake layers had large gaps. And Wyatt had tell-tale carrot crumbs on his snout. She dog-cussed Wyatt, but she still had a large bag of carrots, so she baked another cake, put it in the oven, and we gave my husband instructions to take the cake out of the oven when the timer buzzed. We went out to do some grocery shopping. You know what happened next. We got back, there was a football game on television, and my husband hadn’t even heard the timer dinging for at least 30 minutes. The cakes were as hard as hockey pucks. Back to the grocery store for more carrots. On the third try we finally got it right. After my sister’s death in a car accident this summer, I wasn’t certain I was up to making the carrot cake. But it was Easter, and we had family coming over, and really–can you even have Easter dinner without carrot cake? I dug through my file box of recipe cards and found the carrot cake card–grease splattered, but readable. And even though I was helping give a 50th birthday party for my friend, I managed to get the carrot cake baked and iced. It was a beauty, that cake. Three layers, with maple cream cheese frosting. I put it on the sideboard in the dining room, and off we went to the birthday party, leaving Boomerang Boy home with the dogs. When we got home, Andy was still asleep on the sofa, and Mr. Mary Kay announced his intention of having himself a slice of midnight carrot cake. But somebody had beaten him to it. A quarter of the cake had been gnawed away. Wyatt did not deny his complicity. And even though Weezie is not tall enough to reach the top of the sideboard, I know she was involved, so I am counting her as an unindicted co-conspirator. We shaved off the gnawed on portions of the cake, and served it yesterday, with full disclosure about Wyatt’s crime. Fortunately, all our family members love dogs–and carrot cake, so nobody seemed to mind. Besides, I’d made a pound cake too, to be served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. All in all, it ended up being a very nice Easter Sunday.

Here’s the recipe for Sue’s Carrot Cake

Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans

4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
4 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine eggs and oil and beat ’til frothy. Beat in sugar. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and add to wet mixture in 3 batches. Mix in carrots and pecans. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or ’til firm to touch. Cool completely on wire rack–out of range of marauding dogs.
Frost with:

1 lg. package cream cheese
1 stick softened margarine
1 lb. box confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. maple flavoring
milk or cream as needed.

Combine softened cream cheese and margarine. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, add vanilla and maple flavoring. If frosting is too stiff, add up to 1 Tbsp. milk or cream. Store cake away from dogs and hungry husbands.

3 thoughts on “The Carrot Cake Caper”

  1. That story reminds me of the time my brother put his foot in my mom’s pie on the way to Easter lunch at my grandmother’s house. We had put the pie in the floorboard for safekeeping but my brother and I were always monkeys in the car — climbing back and forth over the seats. Fortunately it was topped with cherries and we were able to hide the footprint and we never told anybody about it! Can’t wait to try the cake recipe!

  2. Hah! Classic dog thievery. My 95 pound lab once ate all 26 chocolate frosted cupcakes bound for the 3rd grade party. How he got onto the center of the dining room table I’ll never know.

  3. Hi Mary Kay,

    I just started reading your blog (love it!) and got turned on to your books during Christmas 2007 when I found Blue Christmas. It felt like it was written just for me. You combined my love of reading with my love of decorating and you got me hooked on junking!

    I just printed your carrot cake recipe and will serve it this Easter. Please accept my sympathy regarding the loss of your sister. That’s hearbraking and I am so sorry.


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