Friday, November 4, 2011

Boxing With Carrot Cake

Boxed mix basics
Some people think there's a standing rule about baking.  You're either baking from scratch or you're not baking at all.  I disagree

Boxed cake mixes have the same ingredients as you or I would be using.  Of course when it comes to brands some are better than others, but this article is not out to choose which is which.  I'm here to talk about using cake mixes rather than choosing which to use. I leave that part up to you.

I like cake, like making it, decorating it and eating it.  Lots of my friends like cake too...leastways that's how it seems.  They sure hold enough gatherings throughout the year and each one has at least one cake as its centerpiece.

This morning, one of our buddies called with an invitation to a party.  During the conversation they asked if I knew how to make carrot cake.  After fifteen minutes of trying to explain how to make it, I broke down and volunteered to make the cake.

Grating extra carrots into the mix
As luck would have it, I had a Betty Crocker cake mix in the pantry....and it was a carrot cake at that!  Yay!

I could do it the easy way, just follow the instructions, throw it in a pan and let it bake.  Piece of...pardon the expression...cake.  But that's not me.  So while the oven pre-heated to 350 degrees,  I set about augmenting what Betty Crocker began.

The original mix comes with flecks of carrot, but not enough if you ask me.  So I started by grating 2 carrots.
There were no raisins in the mix, so I got some out of the pantry and looked around for any other treasures.  Eureka! Walnuts!  This cake was gonna rock!

Mixing the mix
The thing about adding raisins to breads or cakes is that they will, by nature, sink to the bottom as the cake is baking - that is unless you prevent it from happening.  And how does one do that?  Simple! Take your raisins and put them in a little bowl.  Now take about 1/4 cup of cake mix (or flour mix if making from scratch) and add it to the raisins.  Stir until everybody is coated evenly, then add everything back into the cake mix...raisins and all.  That little trick will prevent raisins from sinking. Actually I did the trick with the raisins and walnuts mixed together....just in case the nuts wanted to "go south" too.

Cooking carrot cake
Follow all instructions on the cake mix box. You may have to allow for 5 extra minutes cooking time but don't just assume this is so.  Check the cake as you normally do, with a toothpick or thin knife.  Let it cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the cake pan.   This cake can be served frosted or not.  I usually just sprinkle some sifted powdered sugar over the top.  But if I'm really out to impress I make cream cheese icing.

Carrot, Walnut, Raisin Cake
Of course, there is a pre-made version of the stuff too if you want to follow the "store bought" theme to its very end.  But I'd suggest adding a little extra cream cheese to the boxed icing.

I'll be adding a from-scratch carrot cake recipe to the blog soon for all the purists out there.  If you'd like to send some of your cake recipes....from scratch or boxed additions, feel free.  And don't forget to Enjoy!