When I was a little girl I loved to visit my great Aunt Muriel.
She lived in a big old farmhouse high on a hill overlooking the St. Croix River near my hometown of St. Andrews, New Brunswick. I remember her huge vegetable garden and a tire swing hanging from the bowed branches of an old willow tree across the yard from the creaky screen door of her kitchen. She used to make this carrot cake for my cousin Debbie’s birthday party each year and when I moved away to college I asked her for the recipe as it was definitely my favourite cake growing up.
I’ve lived in Alberta 30 years now and I know many of the farmers that grow my food. Now when I make Aunty M’s cake I use as many things from their farms as I can. I know she would’ve loved the golden hue and rich flavour of the organic canola oil I can source here. She farmed organically because that’s just how you did things.
Once in awhile when I’m on a farm in Alberta, I’ll catch sight of a tire swing hanging from a tree and my mind will race back in time to meet a little girl swinging with all her heart – her cotton dress fluttering and flying up around her. She’s laughing and throwing her head back to catch the rays of the sun as a warm summer breeze rustles the soft leaves of the giant old willow above.
Twirling, twirling, twirling – today I iced my cake with swirls and twirls and remembered again the joy of time on a family farm.
Read on for my Aunt Muriel’s carrot cake recipe. I’ve noted all the farms I was able to support in the making of the beautiful cake. It’s my small way to toast a farmer – the social media theme for the World Food Day – and the International Year of the Family Farm. Enjoy.
Aunt Muriel’s Farmhouse Carrot Cake
3 cups raw carrots (about 12 large carrots), grated by hand or in a food processor (Lund’s Organic Farm – Innisfail)
2 cups flour (Highwood Crossing Farm –High River)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups canola oil (Highwood Crossing Organic Canola Oil- Aldersyde)
4 eggs (Sylvan Star – Sylvan Lake)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350°F
Coat 3 – 9 inch round cake pans with butter and then line them with parchment paper.
Combine the grated carrots, flour, baking soda and cinnamon and stir to coat all the carrots and set aside.
Beat the sugar and canola oil until smooth.
Add the eggs one at a time; beating till smooth and scraping down the sides of the mixer between additions; then add the vanilla.
Add the flour mixture and beat till smooth.
Divide the batter between the three cake pans and bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
Remove the cakes to racks to cool 10 minutes then remove them from the pans by inverting them and peeling off the parchment paper.
Let them cool completely before icing.
Cream cheese icing
8 oz cream cheese (Vital Greens – Picture Butte)
½ cup unsalted butter (Sylvan Star – Sylvan Lake)
2 cups icing sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
Add the icing sugar slowly and beat until smooth
Add the vanilla and beat until well distributed.
Use about a quarter cup between each layer and then ice the top and sides.