One of my favorite things in life is to turn something that was useful into something else and give it new life. For example, I just adore those blankets made from felted wool sweaters. Another one? I’ve been saving some of my favorite clothes the girls outgrow to eventually make a quilt. Or knitting fingerless mittens from a ball of leftover yarn, also top of the list. Reaching into the refrigerator and pulling out bits of this and some of that and creating a soup, fritatta or pasta sauce. Yup.
This recipe comes under the same heading. I make it on the boat all the time. It’s one of those dependable recipes. But on the boat, I can only make it in a 18×26 roasting pan. It’s pretty enough, but tastes better. Here, I used the basic recipe, changed a few things and suddenly found a beautiful, rustic dessert with it’s party dress on.
For starters, the recipe calls for crushed pineapple. I had some leftover Black Pepper and Pinapple Relish from holiday appetitizers and used that instead of canned pinapple. The addition of the sharp spice of the black pepper combined with the tangy, sweet taste of the fresh pinapple shifted the flavor of the cake considerably to the good. In addition, the recipe calls for baking the cake in a 9×13 pan. I have these small springform pans that I use to make small cakes and I poured the batter into four of them and reduced the baking time somewhat. Once the cakes were cooled, I made the frosting. The confectioner’s sugar (and I have a case of it leftover from the summer) is so lumpy from it’s moist summer on a wooden schooner that I tried breaking it up by whizzing it in the food processor. I’ve tried other, less extreme messures in the past like sifting, which just leaves smaller balls of sugar in the canister. What does work, but takes time, is to stir up the frosting with the wet ingredients and allow the sugar to soften, stirring frequently until all of the lumps are gone. However, this isn’t exactly fullproof, although it is the only method available when in my non-electric galley on the boat.Whizzing the sugar and then adding the cream cheese and the butter to the food processor worked wonderfully, however, it did make the frosting looser. I was able to frost the middle just as you normally would for a layer cake, but instead of frosting the sides fully, I just let it dribble over the edge. Lastly, I added toasted coconut, which I just placed in a pie pan and toasted in the oven while the cakes were baking. These cakes serve 8 people if you cut the layer cakes into 4 pieces each.
This is the original recipe from At Home, At Sea: Recipes from the Maine Windjammer J. & E. Riggin.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1½ cups finely grated carrots
1 cup drained crushed pineapple in juice
½ cup mashed ripe banana
¾ cup chopped pecans
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Additional ground cinnamon for garnish
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch pan. Sift the first four ingredients into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the oil, sugar, and brown sugar until well blended. Stir in the flour mixture. Add the carrots, pineapple, banana and pecans and blend well. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake until a tester inserted near the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Leave the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan and cool completely.
For the frosting: Beat all ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. Frost and sprinkle with cinnamon when done.
Makes 12 large or 16 smaller pieces
No I will NOT sneak a piece before I’ve eaten my dinner