I love traditions. This carrot cake recipe is an honored tradition in our family. Carrot cake is my daughter Maggie’s favorite cake and her special request for her birthday each year. The original recipe was shared with me by pastry chef, Charles DeVries, that I worked with years ago in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Charles was a mentor and a well-respected pastry chef at La Chaudiere Restaurant. The carrot cake was not on the menu. Rather, Charles taught me the art of making puff pastry and pate a choux, buttercream, and cream patisserie and the fine art of making meringues. From these basics, we baked traditional French delicacies such as eclairs, religieuse, succes, and a multi-layered mousse filled cake, marquis au chocolate.
On days when we wanted to relax and bake something for staff lunch, we made carrot cake. There is nothing too French about carrot cake. I believed that it was as American as apple pie. I learned that it originated in England and became wildly popular in the US in the 1970’s. This carrot cake, which is much like a spice cake batter, is filled with nuts and raisins. It is rich and moist because of the oil and eggs that are combined with flour and sugar. The cinnamon and other spices make it perfect for any time of the day. I like to make an 8″ layer cake for Maggie’s birthday, but the batter is also perfect for breakfast muffins or iced cupcakes.
Maggie doesn’t care for raisins, so her version of the cake is raisin free with extra pecans. The cream cheese icing is buttery and smooth. I like a lot of icing so many times I make a double batch or a little extra icing to make sure that the layers of the cake are well covered with this rich creamy frosting.