Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake
Dorcas Annette Walker

The stove is an extension of the cook. In fact a stove will take on a personality of its own the more you use it and become familiar with its quirks. Up to the time I got married I took stoves for granted. I hit reality when I encountered my first stove of an unknown origin in our cabin on the school campus. Not only did I have to learn the difference in cooking with gas instead of electric, but the oven temperature knob was missing. “No problem,” my new husband assured me. “A set of pliers will turn the oven on and set it at whatever temperature you want.” To allay my fears even further he bought a temperature gauge to hang on the oven rack. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite that simple. I twisted the pliers a couple of times trying to judge where 350º would be the first time I went to bake a cake. When the cake batter was ready I checked the oven temperature and it was over 400º. I gave a twist in the other direction and when the oven cooled down to 350º I slid my cake batter in. Ten minutes later a check revealed that the oven temperature was now down to 225º. So I slowly re-twisted it back. By the time my cake was baked I was worn out from using the pliers to try and control the oven temperature. Despite my valiant attempts my cake flopped.
The first months were stressful trying to learn how to control the oven temperature, with the oven winning leaving a trail of wrecked cakes. Anyone else would have gone back to making pies as cakes are particular to being baked in an even temperature. Not me. I was determined to master the ancient stove or die in the attempt. My husband and his buddies ate every cake disaster (usually in one setting) making regular rounds to our cabin every couple days. A few of his friends had the nerve to tell me that they hoped I’d never figure out the oven temperature as they were enjoying all the cakes, which only served to fuel my resolution even more. Within six months I had mastered the technique of how far to twist the pliers for a correct oven temperature.
Through the years I’ve had to switch back and forth from gas to electric in different parsonage kitchens. One oven I had to prop shut with a chair as the door had a tendency to fall open without warning- a rather nerve rattling experience. I’ve cleaned all kinds of filthy ovens and scoured stove tops using all kinds of covers. To me trying to cook on a grimy stove is the same thing as wearing dirty clothes. I reached the heights of ecstasy the day I was able to buy my first new stove with a self-cleaning oven. I felt I was liberated forever. Then I splurged and bought a new electric solid-top stove that was a breeze to keep clean. Six months later I was back in another parsonage out-of-state on my knees cleaning a dirty encrusted oven and re-learning how to cook with gas while another lady (renters) enjoyed my new stove. I am once again back in my own house and cooking on my own stove. To those of you who don’t cook I may seem overly semimetal about my stove, but this is one girl who never takes her stove for granted.

When the Carrot Cake first came out I made it from scratch. Some recipes called for raisins or nuts to be added along with grated carrots. Today it is quicker to buy a Carrot Cake mix. For a healthier cake you can add grated carrots, raisins, or nuts. I even bought a cream cheese frosting, which saves time and garnished my icing with grated carrots.

Carrot Cake

1 carrot cake mix
Prepare like the directions say on the back of the box.
1 (12 oz) prepared cream cheese frosting
When the cake is cool ice the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Garnish with grated carrots!

Weekly tip: To bake a level cake once you’ve poured the batter into the cake pan tilt the pan sideways so the batter reaches up along each side leaving the middle slightly lower. As the cake bakes the middle will rise and meet the edges making an even cake on top!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, syndicated columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: dorcaswalker@twlakes.net For more information check out: www.dorcasannettewalker.com

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