Most people think of March 14th (3/14) as “Pie Day”… a
word food play on the number represented by the Greek letter Pi: 3.14. To me, March 14th is my sister’s birthday. So in her honor, I made a carrot cake.
I used the recipe from the Blue Moon Cookbook. This is one of those old, Junior-League style cookbooks from Montgomery, Alabama. The Blue Moon Inn inspired the cookbook and the recipes. My mom remembers the place as a “private dining room.” It was more like a private club that opened only for special occasions and parties. My mom’s graduation party was there, as was the rehearsal dinner before her wedding to my dad (they just celebrated their 43rd anniversary!). The restaurant closed a few years later, so my sister and I never had a chance to eat there. Nonetheless, we treasure the cookbook. The bread pudding is a staple at our Thanksgiving dinner. And I’ve been making the carrot cake for as long as I can remember.
The book oozes culinary history – from the style of recipes (aspic and spinach ring mold) to the ingredient specifications. The recipe for carrot cake, for example, specifies the brand of oil (Wesson) not the type (vegetable). Other recipes specifically call for Hellman’s mayonnaise, Frito’s Corn Chips and Accent.
Over the years, I’ve tried experimenting with this recipe, but discovered that it’s perfect just the way it is… with one exception: it needs ½ tsp. salt. This year, I made a few other modifications. Halfway into organizing the ingredients, I discovered that I only had 1 cup of oil in the house (and it wasn’t even Wesson, it was the Whole Foods 365 Canola). I knew from past experiments that an all butter substitution created a dense cake, so I melted 1 stick of butter with the oil hoping for a better outcome. And since I was heating the oil anyway, I opted to infuse it with a Tahitian Vanilla bean.
The other modification resulted in trying to use up leftovers rather than shop a second time. The traditional recipe calls for a cream cheese frosting. Since I had sour cream only, I made vanilla butter cream and folded in the sour cream to give it a bright tang.
Happy Birthday, Liz! I love you very much and feel so blessed to have you in my life.
Here’s the original recipe (with the salt addition)…
Blue Moon Carrot Cake
3 cups shredded carrots
1 ½ cups Wesson Oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon (I used Vietnamese)
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup chopped pecans (I used raisins instead)
3 cups grated carrots
Mix Wesson oil and sugar and beat well. Add eggs. Sift together dry ingredients twice and add pecans (or raisins). Grease and flour 2 – 9” cake pans. Fill pans and bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Cool. Remove from pans and ice with the following icing.
1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 stick butter (4 oz)
1 box confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla