It seems to me that one of the best ways to celebrate Easter is a carrot cake – this is because I love to eat them and look for any excuse to do so. Here you have not just any ordinary carrot cake – it is my mother’s, otherwise known as Neeners. I think it’s the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten. Don’t tell her that – I’ll never hear the end of it. She has had this recipe since time began, and so I had to attempt to decipher it from her well worn, hand written copy. This was not easy. So I had to call her…”Neeners, your recipe says ‘one half of a medium sized can of pineapple’. What is a medium sized can? Is it the size of, oh, let’s say a can of chili beans you would buy at the store?” …..silence…. And then “Go for it. I don’t think it’s possible to kill this cake”. Lucky, it worked. And if you know me well enough by now, you will also know that it is impossible for me to leave a recipe alone – I have to fiddle with it. In this case, I left the cake alone, but added some caramelized fresh pineapple to top things off. This whole business is super easy to make, so how about you take a walk with me and we get this thing done?
You’ll want to grate about 2 cups of carrots, and haul a can of crushed pineapple in juice out of your pantry. While you’re in there, grab some walnuts – you’ll want to rough chop one cup. If you are not a nut person, just omit them from the recipe. I generally can take them or leave them, but think they add a needed crunch to this recipe. Your call, however.
The rest of this recipe couldn’t be easier First beat together the sugar, canola oil, eggs and vanilla. Then mix in the flour cinnamon, salt and soda. All done? At this point, add in the other stuff: pineapple, carrots, and nuts.
When you’ve got everything mixed in, you’ll see that it is a pretty wet batter. Do not fear – this is how it’s supposed to look.
Now, if you were Neeners, you would bake this in your big, square Corningware pan, and that is what her recipe says. I am doubting there are many of those pans left in existence, so I usually make this in a 13×9 inch baking dish. This time, however, I doubled the recipe and baked it in a ____ dish, and it turned out beautifully. When doubled, it had to bake nearly an hour, but if you find yourself in the position of wanting to feed a bigger crowd, which I happen to be in today – just double the recipe and hunt up a bigger pan. Bake until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan, and when you touch it in the middle, the cake should spring back to you, not sink in. Sinking in implies raw batter.
While this guy is baking, you can start on your frosting. Again, simple. Some melted butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon extract. Just whip it up until smooth.
No need to ask if these beaters got licked off.
Please be patient and make sure your cake is completely cooled before attempting to frost. I think it’s also a good idea to keep the frosting in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. This is somewhat difficult for me, since our refrigerator has been broken for OVER TWO WEEKS and the @#$&&**!! repairman can’t seem to get here for another week to fix it. I could schedule myself to go on a space shuttle faster than these people can….oh never mind. Sorry I got off track. Anyhow, let’s get that caramelized pineapple going. Of course you can leave this part off if you want, but it’s pretty good if I do say so myself.
First, you must decapitate the pineapple and cut him up. This is also simple: Cut off his head and rump. Then run your knife down the sides. You’ll need to go back and take out some of those little round ‘peebs’ that remain. A peeb is just a word my sister came up with, and just means ‘little things’ – usually little undesirable things. After the peeps are gone, just cut down the sides, leaving the rectangular core. You’ll have two big slabs (like the one below) and two smaller ones. Cut them into about 1/2 in cubes, drizzle with Agave or honey, a pinch of salt, and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until soft and caramelized.
See that caramel colored liquid on the foil? That’s the agave and pineapple juices starting to caramelize. As this happens, you’ll want to get a spatula out and try to stir all of that back into the pineapple. This well help them get nice and sweet and turn that pretty golden color. Once this is done, they need to cool to room temperature. If you are lucky enough to have a refrigerator, they can stay in there until ready to use.
All the parts are done! Frost that cake, get that pineapple out, and dig right in – great job!!! The sun is out, so I’m going to eat mine outside this morning. Happiest of Easters to you all!! xoxo
- PART 1
- I cup sugar
- ¾ cup corn oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Beat well
- PART 2
- 1 ¼ cup sifted flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon soda
- Sift into Part 1.
- PART 3
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 1 cup walnuts
- ½ can (medium) crushed undrained pineapple. (Note: this means ½ of a 20 ounce can).
- Add to Parts 1 & 2
- Bake at 350 for 30 – 35 minutes.
- ½ of 8 ounce package of cream cheese
- 2 teaspoons lemon extract
- ½ stick melted butter
- Add powdered sugar until stiff enough to spread. Note (this means a 1 lb. box)
- PS: This recipe bakes very nicely in the large Corning Ware Casserole. Note: Or a 13x9 inch baking dish.