I will always associate this cake with joy. The first time we reached 100 barrels of maple syrup I made it to celebrate. The sugar house crew had been boiling for days and the woods crew had been doing a great job keeping everything running smoothly. There were about 14 of us in all, working our tails off and a rich, crowd-pleaser like this one was just the ticket.
I have been making it since I bought the cookbook it came from; Kathleen King’s excellent Kathleen’s Bakeshop Cookbook (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1990). The original recipe produces a moist cake that isn’t too sweet but has the perfect balance of carrot and cake. The addition of the crushed pineapple gives it some needed tanginess as well. The only part I changed was to substitute maple syrup in for part of the sugar in the icing, making a richer topping. Maple cream cheese frosting is now a classic that you can use for many pastries besides carrot cake.
Last year we produced 700 barrels of maple syrup and this year we have picked up yet another 15,000 taps in a new sugarbush, which should result in a higher tally. We still high-five when we hit 100 barrels but now it is just a moment that passes, full of gratitude that the sugaring season is, indeed, underway.
Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tsps baking powder
- 1 ½ tsps baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsps ground cinnamon
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups grated carrot
- ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1 cup canned, crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 lb cream cheese, room temp
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ½ cup Sugarmaker’s Cut or Sugarmaker’s Dark maple syrup
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350F and grease two 9” round cake pans. I find lining the pan with parchment is also really helpful in getting the cake out in one piece.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and oil. Beat the eggs in one at a time. Fold in the carrots and pineapple and then the nuts, if you are using them. Pour in the flour mixture and stir until totally blended. Divide the batter into the two pans and put in the oven.
Bake for 30 – 45 minutes or until a fork comes out clean when pierced in the middle. Let cool.
While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting by putting the cream cheese in a food processor with a blade or in a Kitchen Aide with the paddle. If you don’t have either, use a hand held blender or good old elbow grease to cream the cheese. Add the softened butter and continue to blend. When there are no visible signs of butter, add the remaining ingredients. Taste the frosting to see if it is to your liking (I don’t like mine too sweet). Add more maple syrup or, if you need to thicken it, add more confectioners’ sugar to taste.
Remove one of the cooled cakes from the pan and place on a wide plate or cake stand. Cover with frosting. Repeat with the second cake, placing it on top of the first. Frost the top and sides completely. Serves 8 – 10.