This weekend I truly felt the Spring season awaken in every sense, the weather was warm, the sky was blue, the colorful flowers blooming all around and lastly, my allergies have returned (whomp whomp). I am highly allergic to pollen and here my allergies are intensifed because of the all the flowers and trees in the countryside combined with the wind coming from the sea, but I do what I can to tame them so that I can enjoy being outside during this beautiful season.
This is my fourth Easter holiday here in Italy and spending it with ‘E’s family. Easter is called “Pasqua”here, and the Monday after Easter is called “Pasquetta” which is also considered a holiday here. We had a wonderful Sunday lunch at ‘E’s parents house and ‘E’s mother cooked for us, as she always does, cooking a delicous meal. She served antipasti and then handmade ‘pappardelle al cinghiale’, a wide pasta and wild boar meat sauce which is a typical Tuscan dish. I knew she would be making incredible desserts but I thought I would contribute by bringing a dessert of my own. Ever since I can remember, my aunt, my mom’s sister, has made carrot cake for Easter and it’s always divine! She is a fantastic baker. I on the other hand, have a lot of learning still to do but practice makes perfect! I am not a huge fan of cakes and desserts but there are certain things I go crazy for and carrot cake is one of those. My mom and I would often buy carrot cake muffins from Trader Joe’s and would finish all of them in an embarrassingly short amount of time. I was really craving that delicoius carrot cake flavor, a taste of home for me, so I attempted to make it for the very first time.
4 cage free eggs
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins
3 slices of pineapple chopped
1/3 cup butter (room temperature)
8 ounces of cream cheese (room temperature)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
pumpkin, flax and sunflower seeds for decoration
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C) Grease a springform pan. In a large bowl beat together the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Mix in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Stir in carrots, raisins, walnuts and pineapple. Pour into the greased springform pan. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes. I think I took mine out at 50 minutes, but this will depend on your oven, so I would check on it at 45 minutes with a toothpick by putting it in the center of the cake and seeing if it comes out clean. Let cake cool for about 15 minutes or longer. You want the cake to be cool enough so that the frosting won’t melt all over the place.
To make the frosting combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and then slowly add in pineapple juice until you achieve your desired consistency. I prefer mine not too thick but not too thin, just enough to be able to pipe it through a pastry bag. I frosted the side of the cake with a knife and then added a mixture of pumpkin, flax and sunflower seeds for decoration and a little added crunch. I put the rest of the frosting in the pastry bag and made tiny little swirls on the top of the cake starting from the outside working inward.
I was so happy with how it turned out, it tasted just as I wanted it to and looked great. The real test was to see if my Italian family liked it. DUN-DUN-DUN! Here in Italy frosting isn’t something that is used on desserts and so I was a little worried they would think the cake was too rich, but I was gladly surprised when they gobbled it all up! ‘E’s younger brother didn’t care too much for the frosting but liked the actual cake, which I thought was kind of funny because indulging in frosting is usually what Americans love doing.
Getting bikini-ready has been on my brain lately as the weather heats up and so I have been trying to cut out refined sugars in my diet, but I had to make an acceptation for Easter! This cake brought back sweet memories of all my family whom I love and miss back in Portland, Oregon. Although I wouldn’t change a thing to this recipe, I am going to experiment to find a way to make the carrot cake less caloric for breakfast muffins beacause I enjoy having it with my morning black tea every once in a while. I will be open to any suggestions if anyone has some. Hope you all have a joyous rest of the week!