Today is both Super Bowl Sunday AND National Carrot Cake Day. There would have been less work involved today if we were celebrating chicken wings or chips and dip, I suppose, but we can’t control the calendar!
At least carrot cake is healthier than most other cakes. Carrots have been used to flavor cakes since Medieval times, when sweeteners were hard to come by and expensive. Nothing satisfied a battle-hardened army freshly returned from plundering, pillaging, and ravishing young maidens more than a big ol’ hunk of carrot cake! This practice died out once sugar became more common and cheap, and for centuries the practice of using a veggie in a dessert was about as foreign as Donald Trump ever getting a decent haircut. And then World War II came along, and with it, sugar rationing. (I’ve never understood this. There was also metal and rubber rationing, which I get. Those are both used to make tanks and Jeeps. But while sugar might satisfy the sweet tooth of some boogie woogie bugle boy from Company B, why else was it such a big deal during “the big one”)? The British government promoted desserts using carrots in order to keep its citizens happy, and there was a sudden glut of carrot puddings, pies, and cakes. Carrot cakes first showed up in the U.S. right around the same time as the Beatles in the early 1960s, and were considered a novelty item on restaurant and cafeteria menus. Until people actually tried them, and fell in love. They are now a standard dessert item everywhere.
It’s been a crazy weekend – Tara and I got engaged Friday night (!) so we’ve been sort of preoccupied with thoughts about our future, ya know? But time – and Eat My Words – waits for no man, as they say. Mrs. Smith’s used to sell a frozen carrot cake that was really good, but we couldn’t find it anywhere yesterday, so we resigned ourselves to baking a cake of our own (and by “we” and “ourselves” I mean “Tara” and “herself”).
Unfortunately, we had to use a box mix. I don’t know why I feel like I have defend that choice, but we were already at the store and didn’t have a recipe on hand, so a pre-made mix seemed like the best choice. And the weird thing is that Carrot Cake is one of the few that I’ve always wanted to make from scratch. I loves me some Carrot Cake! But after the excitement from this weekend and a few Bloody Marys during the Super Bowl, this is what we got.
By the way, I tried guilting Mark into baking the cake. I’ve been up since 4:30am and was downstairs and cleaning the kitchen by 5:30. We crashed early last night and the house has been neglected pretty much since before Christmas…I was long overdue for some productive chores. By the time Mark’s parents showed up for lunch at noon, I was dead on my feet. But at least the house looks good!
Anyway, Mark is always a trooper, but he seemed reluctant to bake that damn cake. I showed him the instructions on the back of the box and assured him how easy it would be. He eyed me skeptically, while about to dump the dry mix into a bowl. I quickly yanked the bowl away and reminded him that Alton Brown always has a Dry Party and a Wet Party! So I whisked together the eggs, veggie oil, and water…added the dry mix and poured it all into a cake pan. As I opened the oven door, Mark asked, “Is that it??”
By the time the game was over, the cake had cooled enough for the pre-made (blech) cream cheese frosting. Mark said it was “Sooooo good!”, but it reminded me too much of plain ol’ Spice Cake. Definitely not as good as Mrs. Smiths!
I loved it, babe. Carrot cake is always good. (And I would have made it, even though I guess I would have made it wrong). Thanks for your help, as always!