Dain’s Grandmother’s Carrot Cake

When I was in college I had a friend named Dain Fritz, who used his truck to help me move a piece of heavy furniture. Since I knew he loved carrot cake, I made him one as a way of saying thanks. Although he was gracious and appreciative, when the cake had been completely consumed, he told me that the best carrot cake he had ever had was his grandmother’s. So when it came time for his birthday, I called his mother, who called her mother, who sent me the following recipe. I have never had a better carrot cake.

I make this in a bundt pan and use half the icing called for in the recipe.

Serves 12.

1¼ cups canola or vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups grated carrots
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour an 8 x 13x 3-inch pan or bundt pan.

2. To make the cake: Place the oil, sugar, and eggs in a mixer and blend until well incorporated. Add the carrots, flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda, and mix until well incorporated. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3. While the cake is baking, prepare the icing: Place the butter and cream cheese in a mixer and mix until well incorporated. Add the sugar and vanilla and blend. When the cake has cooled, spread with the icing. Sprinkle with the nuts and cut into 12 pieces.

From The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back, or Your Schedule (Simon & Schuster, 1998)