The Absolute Best Carrot Cake or More on Corona

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sous vide carrot cake

The short and sweet answer is I prefer to talk cake today, but not just any cake. This cake. The cake that my daughter said is the best she ever tasted and the one my picky grand-daughter with her mouth-full said, “Kiki can you make this for my birthday party?” It’s a carrot cake done “the Keys method” sous vide.

naked cake right out of the pan

Evenly baked from edge to center this lightly spiced and perfectly moist cake needs no embellishment. Truth is I prefer my cakes naked, but for a special occasion layer and swirl your favorite cream cheese frosting and add some toasted nuts for a little contrast in texture. I am not a huge frosting fan, so I used only about 2 cups worth for this cake. In a bowl, I whipped 3 ounces of cream cheese with 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup of super fine sugar (not powdered sugar) and about 1/4 cup heavy cream until it was thick and creamy. The garnish of candied pecans are from Whole Foods. You can find them in the cheese section of the store or just use any toasted nuts you like whole or chopped around the edge of the frosted cake.

Sous Vide Carrot Cake

105 grams all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

52 grams unsalted butter, melted

100 grams light brown sugar

1 egg

¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce (sorry I forgot to measure it out in grams)

1 teaspoon vanilla

100 grams coarsely grated carrots

Set up your water bath and immersion circulator according to your equipment. Heat water bath to 198F and set cook time for 90 minutes. Lightly coat a 6-inch round cake pan with non-stick spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and spray with no-stick spray. In mixing bowl, whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt; set aside. In another bowl, whisk melted butter and brown sugar until all lumps are worked out of the sugar. Whisk in egg, applesauce and vanilla. Stir in carrots and then dry ingredients until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Insert pan into a 1-gallon Ziploc bag centering pan over bottom of bag. Add a magnet, facing out, from side of pan. Cover pan with a heat proof plate. Seal bag pushing out as much air as possible. Drop sealed cake into water bath attaching magnet to side of container making sure cake pan is submerged to its rim or slightly below water. Make slight adjustments, if needed, to be sure cake pan is level. Cook cake for 90 minutes. Remove from water bath and open bag to let heat escape. Carefully remove cake from bag and remove plate. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge and invert on to cooling rack. Remove parchment paper. Cool completely. Slice in half horizontally (or into 3 layers) to fill and frost with cream cheese frosting. Garnish edge with crunchy candied pecans. Serves 8.

sous vide carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and candied pecans

BTW if you need a visual for preparing the sous vide cake pan set up then you can find that here

Don’t forget to wash your hands before you eat 🙂 Be well.

Remember Them & Spirited Fresh Tomato Cake

spirited fresh tomato cakeI woke up this morning knowing what I needed to write about today. I came to realize that I have never been alone in this grief process because so many moms before me have gone through it. I recall an old high school chum named Jeff who died at age 17 of leukemia. Jeff was funny and smart and a strong competitive swimmer. He loved my friend, Donna. I remember visiting him in the hospital to say good-bye and feeling so sad for him and for her. I don’t remember his mom, but I can’t imagine what she was going through. I am glad I remember him. Jeff, you have not been forgotten.

I love you Betty

I love you Betty

And then there is Betty. Betty is the mother of 5 kids including one of my best friends, Carol. I’ve known Betty for 30 years. We have a lot in common. We both love to garden, we loved playing BUNCO together for a good 10 years and we both love Carol to the moon and back. We also both lost a son.

We will always remember Robert & William

We will always remember Robert & William

Betty is now 93 years old and on a recent visit back to my old hometown I stopped by to check in on her. Betty affirmed what I already knew: a mom never stops grieving the loss of a child. It has been 56 years since she lost her oldest child, Robert. We never really talked (or did we just mostly cry) about it until this visit. And then she showed me an old photo of Robert, so handsome displaying a fish he had just caught…and in the same frame….right next to her son…was mine. My heart melted. We decided our boys were good together probably catching fish off the banks of heaven.

Spirited Fresh Tomato Cake

Spirited Fresh Tomato Cake

Remember that old-fashioned tomato cake recipe made with that processed canned soup? Pitch that and make this especially if you have an abundance of vine ripened garden tomatoes either in your back yard or from the local market. With a hint of spice it’s the perfect cake for a snack or with a cup of coffee for breakfast. No one will ever know there are tomatoes in the mix let alone a bit of spirit.

what 10 ounces of tomatoes look like

what 10 ounces of tomatoes look like

I cannot bake without the use of a scale. It takes so much guesswork out of this scientific process and thus less room for mistakes. We all measure differently when it comes to measuring cups and spoons and I am not certain that there is even a standard among those vessels in the manufacturing process. Use a meaty tomato for this cake or cut out the seeds before processing. This year I grew Burpee’s “salsa” tomatoes, which have very few seeds.

you would never know there are tomatoes in the cake

you would never know there are tomatoes in the cake

Spirited Fresh Tomato Cake

10 ounces ripe plum tomatoes, cored (see photo)

¼ cup gold rum

½ cup chopped dried cherries

½ cup toasted sliced almonds

1 cup all purpose flour

¾ cup almond meal flour

1-teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

Powdered sugar

Heat oven 350F. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with no-stick baking spray or grease and flour. Process tomatoes in a blender or food processor until smooth (measure 1 cup of tomato puree). Toss cherries and rum together in a small bowl. In medium bowl, whisk flour, almond meal, baking soda, salt and spices together. In a large bowl, with electric mixer beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add egg; blend well. Slowly, beat in tomato puree; mixture will look curdled. Add flour mixture blending just until moistened (I usually fold the flour mixture in by hand). Stir in cherries and rum and almonds; blend well. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth the top. Bake 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and cake pulls away from sides of pan. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before inverting on rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. 

what light and fluffy butter and sugar looks like

what light and fluffy butter and sugar looks like

Self Help or Counseling/Butter or Olive Oil

I love the flower of fresh Thai basil and how it mimics the color of the blackberry jam

I love the flower of fresh Thai basil and how it mimics the color of the blackberry jam and that is a spoonful of Greek yogurt on the side.

Do I need help? That is a question one in mourning may ask over and over again. While there is no universal answer to that one question the chances are if you are asking yourself, “Do I need help?” then you probably do. As a medical professional and prior to my own son’s death I often referred patients to mental health counselors and supportive groups. While in uncomplicated cases one may only need a supportive, nonjudgmental listener to facilitate the normal grief process there are others that need much more. Here are a few questions one should be asking themselves as they travel the grief road.

  • Am I stuck or making progress towards a more joyful life?
  • Am I using addictive substances like alcohol or smoking more than I ever did?
  • Am I over-eating or not eating at all?
  • Do I talk of my loved one as if he/she is still alive?
  • Can I manage my anger or am I self-destructive?
  • Have I thought about harming myself?
  • Have others told me that they think I need help

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions don’t hesitate to seek out grief self-help groups like Compassionate Friends or deeper therapeutic intervention with a professional mental health care provider. There is no shame in seeking help. Remember that losing your loved one is a complete assault on your body, mind and heart. There is no pain like it. If you felt this kind of pain for any other reason you would be running to the doctor. There would be no hesitating. Get what you need to facilitate healing and support your experience.You have a choice.

always loved a good camp fire

lots of healing took place around this firepit

Butter or olive oil. There is a choice when it comes to baking. I love them both, but clearly there is a big difference in taste and texture of the finished product. This recipe was inspired by a lovely bottle of blood orange olive oil. Have you ever gone into one of those shops where you can sample all kinds of olive oils and vinegars? So fun and so filling because I taste many before settling on 1 or 2 to take home.

the one with olive oil

the one with olive oil has a thinner, more fragrant batter

Not quite sure of the science behind it, but the cake made with the olive oil was more moist in a way I can only describe as “juicy”. It was a bit surprising to get that burst of bittersweet blood orange. The butter cake, however, just melted in the mouth with the slightest hint of citrus. It was the hands-down favorite. Speaking of “hands-down” do you remember that board game? I used to love playing that with my kids, but I digress. SIGH.

baked with butter--see the difference in the batter?

baked with butter–see the difference in the batter?

Here is the recipe. Take whichever direction suits you best…..and with those leftover egg yolks make a pudding or custard pie or ice cream…..sounds like a future blog post.


Little Blackberry Almond Cakes

4 egg whites

¼ teaspoon sea salt

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder

1 cup almond flour

1/3 cup all purpose flour

½ cup blood orange olive oil or flavored olive oil of your choice

12 teaspoons blackberry preserves

¼ cup sliced almonds

garnish: powdered sugar, fresh berries

Heat oven 350F. Line a cupcake tin with foil liners or use little mini loaf size baking containers. Beat egg whites and salt to just stiff peaks. With mixer running, gradually add sugar and vanilla bean powder; blending well. Add almond flour, all-purpose flour; blend just until mixed. Add oil and blend until incorporated. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Spoon 1 teaspoon preserves into center batter. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden and wooden pick inserted into cake comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature. Dust cakes with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh berries. Makes 12 cakes

For Butter version:

Replace oil with ½ cup melted unsalted butter and add grated zest of 1 orange