Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Only on your birthday.

In a perfect world I could serve a cake with one slice missing. I could make a cake in the daylight hours, cut a slice out and spend 20 minutes taking pictures, changing settings, creating the scene around the plate. In this way I could photograph properly; in the right light, at my leisure, before people arrive instead of quickly rushing to snap pictures and then scurrying off with a slice for a rushed mini photo shoot while everyone else eats and mingles. If I could just take one slice out I wouldn't have to worry that my pictures won't come out in the dim evening light. If I could just take one slice out, I could even put it back untouched. I could be clever about it and spread the frosting just so.* Then no one would notice right away. They may, however, find it strange when they don't see me snapping away at the shutter and would quickly discover what had transpired. Of course since it's a perfect world, it would be okay.  

However, since we don't live in a perfect world, and I can't actually take a slice out of a cake made for someone else, I reserve this right for my own birthday cake. 
It's my birthday, it's my cake, I made it, I do what I want. 
I took a piece out this afternoon, photographed it and ate it, right there as I was lying on the floor with the camera. Then without even thinking twice I cut another one and ate that too. 

If I had predicted what part of this cake I would like best I easily would have guessed the frosting; but when I tasted it, it was not the frosting, but the actual cake that demanded another taste. Sure the frosting complemented it nicely but it was the cake that I wanted to keep eating bite by delectable bite.

I'm not sure why I made a carrot cake. It's certainly not my favorite cake but something pulled me to it. When I thought of what I would make for today, I didn't even blink twice. This was it, I was certain - I wanted this cake. My mouth must have already known the warm autumn flavor that awaits, my nose already taking in the rich cinnamon emanating from my oven and lingering on as it bakes. I think it was the frosting that caught my attention, after all what sounds better than fresh ricotta lightly sweetened with maple syrup?? In the end though, the frosting was a bit disappointing, forgettable, the maple flavor almost too faint to detect. On the other hand the cake, well the cake was perfect. Moist and richly flavored with cinnamon, the prefect texture thanks to finely ground carrots instead of coarsely grated. I did as Shannalee suggested and baked it the day before to let the flavors come together, don't skip this step and you too will posses a deep seated need to cut a slice (or two) before you serve it to anyone else. Just remember, only on your birthday.

*This is sort of like the cut-a-piece-of-cake-from-middle-and-fill-it-with-frosting trick 

Spelt Carrot Cake

I used a 10-inch spring form pan because I didn't want to buy a 9-inch round - either works fine.
Replace the white whole wheat flour with white spelt flour to make this gluten free. Next time I might even just try 100% whole grain spelt flour.

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup whole grain spelt flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups raw turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 large eggs
3/4 cup olive oil
1 pound carrots processed finely in a food processor

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix eggs lightly. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add egg and oil, and mix through. Add grated carrot, then mix till combined. Bake in a greased nine-inch-round cake pan lined with greased parchment paper, for around 35 to 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from tin.

Ricotta Maple Frosting
To address my disappointment in the frosting - next time I'm going to try smoothing out the ricotta in a food processor and straining it in cheesecloth (the way I would for cannoli filling). Then beating it with vanilla and maple syrup and gradually adding just a bit of powered sugar to thicken it as needed. If its not too thin without the powered sugar then I'll leave that out and add 1 extra tablespoon of maple syrup instead. For now I have left the recipe as is.

2 cups fresh ricotta

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix ingredients together with a spoon
Frost cake.


  1. It's my birthday too! Do I get a slice? This looks delicious and the pictures are great :)

  2. Oh, that's a bummer about the frosting. :( On the other hand, the cake looks perfect! I loved it the minute I saw it on your Flickr stream and I had no idea it was this carrot cake! :)

  3. it's a beaut, no doubt about that. love how you rounded the frosting on top. i made my first olive oil cake a couple months back, and quickly, easily fell in love with the moist, dense texture. a perfect birthday cake.

    cheers to you,


  4. Gracie - it's ALWAYS your birthday (and I'll forever hear iiiiiittt's my BIRTHDAYYYYYY!!! echoing through the house that I no longer live in). haha

    Shannalee - Thank you and yes it is your delicious carrot cake. I knew I would have to make it the second i saw your post about it! Don't get me wrong the frosting was not bad (as I think I've accidentally made it sound) its just that the cake part was so much better than I could have imagined. Plus I had unrealistically high hopes for the frosting. I still think it complemented it well and I like that it wasn't so sweet. :)

    Heather - thank you! olive oil cake sounds delicious! is it on your blog? i'll have to take a look :)

  5. The olive oil cake (orange-scented!) is on my blog, found here:

  6. I've seen so many recipes lately for carrot cake! So far, I think yours must be the best! The other one I really like is Scott's Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. What do you think? Happy Baking!

  7. squirrelbread - that cake looks great and so does your blog!

    Sophia - Thank you! I just took a look at Scott's cake, i've heard of adding pineapple for moisture and sweetness but I've never tried it. Cream cheese frosting always wins with me though :)


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