Birthday Dinner

A note, while we are in Boston and in the middle of events which are unprecedented, I thought perhaps we needed a distraction.


It’s April which means that it’s time for my beloved  “adopted brother” T.’s birthday dinner.  He requested the same thing as last year with the exception of spinach instead of zucchini.  He also asked for carrot cake, which was a good thing, as I have an overabundance of carrots just now.  Chalk that up to absent-mindedness in the grocery store.  But it led to delicious cake.

IMG_5535I used a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe, which is a great cookbook.  After much consultation, T. decided on carrot cake, no raisins, yes to nuts and a cream cheese frosting (not a vanilla bean cream cheese frosting).

Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Frosting


For the cake:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound carrots

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups canola oil

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened  but still cool

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1 Tablespoon sour cream (I used plain greek yogurt)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar


Preheat oven 350.  Cooks Illustrated says to grease and line a pan with parchment– they also want you to use a 13 x 9 pan. I used two eight inch pans and I forgot the parchment.  Either way, use the parchment– I regretted not having it.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.

IMG_5485In the food processor, fitted with the large shredding disc, or by hand, shred the carrots (make sure you washed and peeled them first).


Fold the carrots into the dry ingredients so that they are coated and set it aside.


Wipe out the food processor and fit it with the steel blade. I think this would also work in a stand mixer.  Process the eggs and sugars until combined and frothy.  While the machine is running, pour the oil through the chute  and process for about twenty seconds more.

IMG_5489Scrape this into a large bowl.  Stir in the carrot/dry ingredients.

IMG_5490Continue to mix until there are no streaks of flour left.

IMG_5491Pour into the prepared pans.  IMG_5492Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Reverse the position of the pan halfway through.IMG_5493 Let them cool on a rack for about two hours.  Run a knife around the edges and then try to flip them out.  If you used parchment, this will be successful.  If you didn’t, try a soft spatula around the edge that you sort of tuck under in order to help loosen the cake.  If you end up with big holes, well, that’s why frosting was invented.  While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.  In the food processor, with the steel blade (again, I think a stand mixer would work just fine), combine the cream cheese, butter, sour cream (yogurt) and vanilla.  This should take about five seconds according to CI but it took longer for me because my butter wasn’t soft enough.  I had to scrape down the sides a few times.  Once these are all combined, add the sugar and process again until smooth.  Two notes:  one, I had to make two batches of frosting in order to have enough (just double the recipe above) and two, I totally didn’t take photos of the frosting making.  So sorry.  Frost your cake.  IMG_5528You could get fancy and make carrots.  Save some of the frosting and separate into two small bowls.  Color one orange and one green.  Use this link for a tutorial on how to make the carrots and which decorating tips to use.  IMG_5536Try to space your carrots more evenly than mine so that everyone can have a piece with a carrot on it.  IMG_5562We served it with vanilla and chocolate ice cream. It was so good.  Half was eaten by the end of dinner.  IMG_5563Happy, happy birthday my dear brother T.  So glad you have a permanent seat at our crazy family table!!!

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