My family emigrated from Syria when I was not walking yet, we landed in Atlanta, Georgia of all places. When I was almost four, we found ourselves in America’s last home town. I have no biological family in the area besides my mom, dad, and brother. But that is not to say I do not have family in the area, I have adopted people to be my family. The couple across the street from us when we lived on Junipero seemed fun, they were instantly aunt and uncle. Her parents—who lived in Mill Valley—visited often and they quickly became grandparents.
I was fortunate enough to have these relationships stick and last through to adulthood and cherish them just as much as my blood relatives.
This recipe for carrot cake is from the aunt (biological) of my California grandma, as I like to call her. It’s handwritten on personalized stationary and signed, “with love” from her late husband. I found it in the recipe collection of my California aunt. It always makes me laugh when I introduce her to people as my aunt and they look at her: five-generation-Californian-whose-ancestors-came-from-England features and my dark, Syrian features. “She married your mother’s brother?” I get inquisitively and have to explain that she didn’t have to marry anyone to get me as her niece, I chose her.
Don’t be startled by the amount of carrots it calls for, it is, as my friend calls it, a bugs bunny cake.
Nita’s Carrot Cake (I don’t know Nita)
Makes two 9” cakes.
- 3 cups grated carrots (1 3/4 lbs)
- 1 1/4 cups oil
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup walnuts
Heat oven to 375°F. Oil and flour two 9” round cake tins.
Beat together oil and sugar. Add eggs 2 by 2.
Dump in carrots and beat. Sift and add together: flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Mix nuts with 1/2 cup flour and add.
If you are confused, call your mama. She will confuse you more. (This was in the original recipe!)
Let cake cool entirely before frosting.
Cream Cheese frosting
- 11 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
- Two 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, chilled
- 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
In a standup mixer or with a handheld mixer, mix all the ingredients until smooth and homogeneous.
Frost one of the cakes with about a third of the frosting. Then add the second cake on top and finish frosting. It’s best to do a thin “crumb coat” first so any of the crumbs that may come off with the first layer of frosting don’t show up in the final product. After the crumb coat, apply the remainder of the frosting with a clean spoon or knife. Enjoy!