Friday, November 12, 2004

Daddy's soup = Moist Carrot Cake

Sometimes I hear husband making strange dismayed noises in the kitchen.
"Wah" usually means he found the fish head in the freezer. "Yikes" is the dinuguan
(pork, intestine and blood in vinegar stew). "Aiiieee" a la Jacky Chan means something fell from the freezer on to his toe.
My Pinoy friends and I exclaim how similarly our refrigerators look, bulging and spilling out of its shelves. Being a child of parents who lived through World War II usually means a reluctance to throw away leftovers, because of the inner voice in our heads of our moms and lolas that keep whispering, "Sayang, sayang..."(what a waste, waste not, want not).
So husband has to do the clearing out once in a while (he likes his refrigerator interior spare and minimalist daw), and then he makes the kids his trademark "Daddy-cleaned-out-the-refrigerator macaroni soup" with his secret broth (chicken powder) and leftover meats and vegetables. I like it because then I can make something sweet for dessert...

My kids would be unhappy if I served them carrot cake for their birthdays
(too healthy?) but they love it as a treat for the mid-afternoon, after-school hunger pangs, and sometimes they even have it for breakfast.
I've experimented with countless recipes searching for a moist and luscious carrot cake, and finally the quest ended when I came upon this in a Bon Appetit "Flavors of 1999."

Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter liberally, and flour (shaking off excess), a non stick Bundt pan.
The trick I find that helps make a moist cake is to grate the carrots using the smallest holes of the box grater. Must spend elbow grease and sweat equity! The food processor I have somehow just doesn't "cut it."
Grate into fine shreds about 1 lb. of carrots for a total of 2 &1/2 cups.

Whisk 2 cups flour, 2 tsps. baking soda, 1 tsp. baking powder,1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp cardamom, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (I prefer cardamom but you may also use just 2 tsps. cinnamon or some other combination).
Mix 4 large eggs, 1 cup canola or other veg. oil, 1 cup granulated sugar, and 1 cup golden brown sugar; whisk to blend. Add in 2 &1/2 cup finely grated carrots, 8 oz. drained crushed pineapples, 1-2 tbsp. of brandy or Grand Marnier, 2 tsps. of vanilla extract, and 2 tsps. of fine orange zest. Mix in 1 cup lightly toasted sliced almonds and 1/4 cup dried currants. Blend well.
Add dry ingredients and mix just to blend, scraping down sides of bowl. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, approximately 1 hour.
Cool cake in pan on rack 15 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack; cool completely.

daughter's idea to include her "cat"

Drop a dollop of sweetened whipped cream (flavored with brandy if preferred, but that would make it for adults only).
The recipe also calls for a marmalade glaze to pour over the top but am omitting it at #1 son's request.