Sunday, March 25, 2012

Beet-Carrot Cake

Dear friends,
Let's do a little exercise, shall we? Let's pretend it's Spring.
It's easy if you look at your calendar and don't look outside. And if you live in Alberta, whatever you do, don't look at the weather forecast.

For those of you who haven't looked at the forecast, there is snow in it. Lots of snow, apparently.
I spent a large chunk of Friday morning talking with the girls at my Mommy Play Date about moving our meeting to a local playground as soon as all this wretched snow is gone, and now they're calling for more of it! Ugh.

I was feeling a bit un-Springy this weekend as a result. I was sleepy, I was more than a little grumpy, and I didn't have much drive. Now that I think about it, however, my tired state may have been moreso due to the fact that I only slept 3 hours Thursday night... I didn't fall asleep until 2:30 (last cup of coffee was at 11:30), the baby woke up at 4 and stayed awake until 5, I got up at 6 to start the dough for some pretzel bites for the Play Date group, and then when I tried to lay down for a bit while my dough rose Matt's alarm started going off every 10 minutes.
Anyway, as a recap, and regardless of the reasons, I've been tired, I've been grumpy, and I haven't felt up to much of anything.
Enter the need to bake something. Not just anything, mind you, but a birthday cake for my one-and-only Mother. Oh, and thanks to allergies and other odd sensitivities right now, the cake could not contain chocolate, citrus, strawberries or coffee. Again, UGH.

I did have a list of potential cakes that I could have made. There were some mousse cakes that I could have subbed out the citrus and replaced with raspberries, or vanilla. And then there's the whole realm of crepe cakes, not to mention baked alaskas and ice cream bombes. But my Mother - my dearest, darling Mother - she's an interesting one. An odd duck if you will. An odd duck in the sense that she has no desire to eat anything like duck. If it doesn't come from a pig, a cow, a chicken or a turkey, she would prefer not to eat it. And she'd appreciate if you didn't point out that her bacon came from a pig while she's eating it.
My mother is the reason that I had never tasted a vegetable that began with the letter 'a' until I was well into High School. She's the reason that I thought every meal needed to be served with potatoes. She's the reason I put ketchup on stew and scrambled eggs, that I put pickles on peanut butter and that I put applesauce on pork chops. The only cheese we had growing up was cheddar, mozzarella if there was a lasagna to be made, or plasticy yellow facsimiles that were spelled 'cheez'. She taught me that chicken was supposed to be dry, steaks should never be pink and that everything should be cooked, "at 350 for about an hour." (Something which she still holds to to this day)
Now, my dearest, darling mother has come a long way for my sake. She's tried sushi, rice paper rolls, duck and wine jelly all for the sake of pleasing me. She's been seen buying avocados and asparagus lately, and has even been known to buy parmesan cheese that doesn't come in a shaker. However, my Mother is still the same person she has always been - a woman who enjoys the plainer things in life. My mother would a million times over rather have a good cup of tea and a fig newton than a good glass of wine and a goat cheese crostini. All that to say - I had a feeling that the baked alaskas would be wasted on someone of her more simplistic tastes. Not to say that she wouldn't enjoy it, but she would so much more enjoy something that tasted homey and comfortable, and that she knew I didn't have to defy any laws of physics to make.
And so we come to the Beet-Carrot Cake with Toasted Coconut Topping.
I love this cake. Everyone who has even had it loves this cake. You may not like beets, you may not like nuts, you may not like carrot cake, coconut or cake of any sort - but you will like this cake. The cinnamony-coffee cake taste of the beet cake is perfectly complemented by the sugary-chewy toasted coconut topping, and a dollop of slightly sweetened whipped cream makes it a perfect treat.
And the best part? This is a recipe I can actually share!

Beet-Carrot Cake with Toasted Coconut Topping:
1 c. oil
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 egg yolks
3 tbsp hot water
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c. grated beets (about one good-sized beet)
1 c. grated carrot (about one good-sized carrot)
1/2 c. walnut pieces
3 egg whites - beaten stiff

Beat first five ingredients together until light. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Stir in grated beets and carrot with a fork. Add the dry mix to the egg yolk mixture. Mix just until blended. Stir in the nuts.
Fold in stiff egg whites until well mixed. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.

1/3 c. margarine
1 3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. cream (milk works too)
1/2 c. walnut pieces
3/4 c. medium coconut (unsweetened preferably)

Heat all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium, just until combined. Pour over baked cake and brown at 450 degrees until golden (5 - 8 minutes)

Now as I mentioned above, this cake is a hit, and it certainly was with everyone at my mom's birthday party. But, while the beet cake with the coconut topping is fantabulous, don't let that stop you from dividing the two! That coconut topping is great on everything from a basic white cake to a dark Devil's Food. And that beet cake would be wonderful with a raw sugar sprinkle or a cream cheese icing. But do promise me that if you ever make one or the other, at least give them the chance once to show off how great they go together!

Mrs. VanderLeek ;)

p.s. No pic - it got eaten too fast!

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