Lucile Hill rocks! I feel uniquely qualified to make this pronouncement since she is my great grandmother. I often refer to her in the present tense because even though she passed away several years ago, she is still very much with me. My memories of her are filled with laughter. Oh, she had a beautiful laugh. I think she loved to laugh more than anything in world. I can just see her now conniving some plot to play a joke on my great grandfather and enlisting my help. I loved my great grandfather more than anything in the world, but when granny got that devilish sparkle in her eye, I knew we were going to have some fun! Granny was not only a great comic, but she also loved to teach. She always had time for her family, and I loved nothing more than being her student. By her side, I learned how to make spaghetti, how to type, and how to sabotage grandpa in a game of Rummikub (hint: you fill up his board with tiles when he takes a restroom break). Grandpa still wiped the floor us in that game even though he had no clue that we tried to cheat our way to victory. But the joke was even more funny because it was on us.
I stayed with my great grandparents for two weeks one summer when I was 12. Looking back, we didn’t do anything all that exciting in those two weeks, but it was the best summer vacation I ever had. It was the best simply because I was with my great grandparents. Granny taught me how to cook a few dishes, she took me to the bakery to buy bread, and we played games almost every night after dinner. She even patiently listened to my story of how the kids at school made fun of me and played jokes on me that school year. I didn’t think any adult would care about that, but she did. She didn’t offer platitudes such as “life isn’t fair,” or “words will never hurt you.” She knew words had power and that they could inflict the deepest wound, and so she always chose her words to me carefully. She empathized with me, told me she understood, and shared how the same thing happened to her as a child. I felt loved beyond measure. She wasn’t just my great grandmother, she was a beautiful guardian angel. Thinking back, I know beyond a shadow of doubt that those memories are why I love teaching the children in my life how to cook, play games, and be creative. As I told my granny in a letter once, I want to be just like her. I want to pass down some of the love that my great grandparents, and especially my great grandmother, gave me. When my “baby” sisters and brother, and my nieces and nephew get older, I want them to look back at their memories with me and be inspired to pass that love down to the children in their lives.
And that is why I want to share this recipe with you. I want to pass some of my great grandmother’s love to you. We try to have a healthy diet in our house, but I inherited my great grandmother’s recipe box where I found this recipe in her hand writing. I had to try it. Who makes homemade carrot cake anymore? Well, I am shouting the praises of this cake. If you’re going to splurge, please take the time and effort to make the best cake ever and then laugh in the face of the calories, sugar, and gluten as you savor every bite without a single moment of guilt. As you eat this cake, know that my great grandmother’s love is being shared with you through me!
By the way, Please note that I had to modify her recipe a little because some of her measurements were a little vague – thank goodness for intuition!
2 cups – light brown sugar
1 Tsp. – Salt
4 – large eggs
2 Tsp. – cinnamon
1 ½ cups – Canola oil
3 cups – grated carrots
2 cups – all-purpose flour
2 Tsp. – baking soda
½ cup – chopped pecans
12 oz. – Cream Cheese
6 Tbsp. – butter (please don’t use margarine!)
2 cups – powdered sugar
1 ½ Tsp. – vanilla extract
¾ cups – chopped pecans
1 ½ tsp. – milk
Tip 1: Grating carrots is a beast. I gave up halfway through and resorted to “shaving” the carrots with my peeler, which resulted in ribbons of carrots. I then diced the ribbons into small pieces. The pictures will show the ribbons of carrots. You will need approximately 4-6 large carrots to get 3 cups. If you decide to grate the carrots, I highly recommend that you delegate this job to a small minion in the form of an innocent child who will be thrilled that you are letting them help. Tip 2: As my pictures show, I did not perform this step adequately because my cake stuck to the pan like super glue. I almost had to call this shredded carrot cake. I used only a little Canola oil on a paper towel to grease my two very old cake pans that are apparently of the sticking variety. I also did not flour the pans. Grease em up, people, and use that flour! I think that copious amounts of butter might work better than Canola oil.
Tip 3: It is important to let the cakes cool because otherwise the icing will melt and soak into the cake rather than producing a nice thick layer.
Tip 4: If you don’t allow the cream cheese and butter to soften to the touch, the icing will be very stiff. If you don’t want to leave these ingredients out for hours, soften them in the microwave for about 10-15 seconds. Keep a close eye on this because you do not want to melt the cheese and butter. They should indent easily to the touch but not be melting all over the place. If you prefer to use cold cheese and butter, increase the amount of milk until the icing is at the right consistency. The icing should be easy to spread to avoid damaging the cake.
My great-grandmother giving me a bite of her dessert.