Last Sunday was the return of Andy’s Burger Night, an annual mid-winter cookout held at Unity Nursery in Church Hill. Designed to showcase the abundance of local foods in winter, the event raised money for the agricultural program at Kent County high school. After getting frozen-out and snowed-out last year, everyone welcomed the 50F+ temperatures and feasted on three different grass-fed sliders, sides and desserts, all featuring ingredients from local farms.
Matt from Molly Mason’s worked the grill and I provided the sides and desserts. Purple and Fingerling Potato Salad, Local Greens Salad, Cole Slaw, Frittata with local kale, onions and eggs. I was happy with everything, but the things that seemed to get the most raves was my carrot cake. Vic Priapi from Priapi Gardens donated some of the most beautiful organic rainbow carrots I’ve ever worked with and Cedar Run provided the fantastic eggs. Based on a recipe I found in Saveur magazine, the mix of purple, orange and yellow carrots meant the cake didn’t have the distinct orange hue I usually associate with carrot cake, but the combination of the carrots, coconut and crushed pineapple made the cake moist and naturally sweet. So sweet in fact, that I cut back on the sugar in the original recipe.
I’m content to eat carrot cake plain or with a light dusting of confectioners sugar, but I know that for many, it’s not carrot cake if it’s not topped with swirls of cream cheese frosting, so I’ve included my favorite version of the recipe.
Makes about 12 servings
For the cake:
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups melted butter
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 ounces crushed pineapple (I like to take fresh pineapple and puree it in the blender, but canned is ok)
1-1/4 cups shredded sweetened coconut flakes
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrot
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
¾ pound cream cheese
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) softened butter
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare the cake:
- Heat oven to 350F. Brush the sides and bottom of a 9” x 13” cake pan with melted butter and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Set aside. Combine the sugar, melted butter and eggs in a bowl and whisk until evenly blended. Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Add these dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir until just mixed. Add the pineapple, coconut, walnuts, vanilla and carrots and gently fold to combine.
- Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until the top springs back when pressed gently. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
Prepare the Frosting:
- Combine the sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer and beat at medium speed until blended and fluffy.
- Spread the icing over the cooled cake.