Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Luxury defined by a carrot cake

Luxury is defined by our personal experiences -- molded by our opportunities and deprivations. 

Since I no longer have my own kitchen to muse about in, experiment and make a mess of at will, the simple opportunity to work in a kitchen to create a new recipe has become a luxury. After days of negotiating and pleading my mom gave me permission to attempt a layer cake in her kitchen.  An opportunity for which I am very grateful -- Thanks mom!

I first understood this concept of luxury when I traveled to Armenia seven years ago. Though I stayed in the capital Yerevan, I had the opportunity to explore the country. I saw both the good and the bad -- not only the new developments but also the villages stuck in time. One weekend we took a trip the the region of Karabagh, a contested area of land fought over in recent history.  The churches were riddled with gaping wounds brought upon by the weapons of war and the people were missing members of their family yet an opportunity to get together with friends new and old brought about the best in them. Smiles lit their faces while generosity and camaraderie fueled the amazing welcome and warmth they created for us visitors It was in these experiences that I truly understood the luxuries of having running water ( both hot and cold), an indoor restroom, and an air conditioner in the peak of summer. Who am I to complain about life challenges and obstacles when they are nothing compared to those suffered by people around the world?

With that brief foray into the past, I'm grateful to have the opportunity to bring you back to the present with my recipe for Carrot Cake, filled with a simple cream cheese sour cream filling. Granted, I was racing against the sun last night to get the pictures taken, so the filling was added a little bit early. Please forgive the delicious goopiness. It looks much better today :)

Marina's Carrot Cake Recipe

2 cups of flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 eggs
1 cup organic sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrot
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup raisin
1 cup chopped walnut
3 tablespoon orange brandy


8 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons organic sour cream
1 capful vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12" cake pan with butter and flour and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together and set aside.  In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the orange brandy and let it sit while you work on the rest of the cake.

Next, in a mixer, whip the sour cream, coconut oil and sugar until it is thoroughly combined and smooth. Slowly add the eggs in one at a time and whip until it reaches a smooth light consistency. Now set the mixer on "low" and add the flour in 1/2 cup at a time. Be careful not to overmix the dough.  As the dough begins to thicken, gradually pour in the orange brandy, alternating with the last bit of flour.

Finally, fold in the carrots, zucchini, walnuts and raisins. 

Bake for 60-65 minutes. 

P.S. I used a thin wood skewer to poke my cake and check for doneness... Any other techniques?


  1. I really like the appearance of this carrot cake, lightly dusted on top and just filled between the layers. Glad you found a kitchen to enjoy your passion for cooking and baking. Bookmarked this recipe-yum!

  2. I just adore carrot absolute favorite. This looks like a luxury, indeed. Thank you for sharing it with me...and I don't know if I'm going to attend Foodbuzz. I would love to...but I don't know if I can afford the tickets!

  3. This carrot cake looks fantastic.

  4. I am a huge fanatic of carrot cake, Marina. It's one of my favorites :-) Your story about luxuries and your time in Armenia made me smile. I thank your mom, too, for letting you use the kitchen. Why was she against you working in it? And as for checking doneness, I'll usually use a toothpick or even chopsticks to see if any batter clings ;-)