Friday, March 9, 2012

Carrot Cake for Mum.

You know how we detest certain food as kids but cannot dream of living without now?

Case in point: tea. I never liked the cups of milky chai, spiced with dried ginger (sukku) and elaichi that my mum would plonk in front of me. With a plate full of Britannia Marie that smelt vaguely of michar (mixture). Why couldn't I have fun after school snacks like "Ice Milo" and the last bits of Chips Ahoy! she hid in her dresser? Like all normal kids have?

Not with my mum. No chicken nuggets, no french fries, no pricey Squeezy Kissan Jams. My mum has no use for precious people. No hiding shaved carrots in idli batter, no happy faces drawn on roti with Milkmaid. She (rightly) knew that was just watering the fussy little gourmand in me.

Guess how I turned out anyway?

Yes, I can be finicky and a half. However, when I'm on duty (especially on nights, ICU, ER and double shifts), I drink plastic cup after plastic cup of bad hospital tea. I can recognise the sound of the tea trolley from just about anywhere. After all the childhood drama/trauma.

Back in the days of Fullhouse and Sweet Valley Twins & Friends, I'd come across various food I hadn't an inkling about. Never had a problem with Enid Blyton: fried tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs and jam tarts were easy enough to imagine. With the American books, I had these road blocks. What was Eggplant Parmigiana? Mallomars? And yes, carrot cake.

Who made anything other than beans-carrot poriyal with carrots? It's bad enough that they offered carrot juice (and tomato juice) on Air France. Carrot cake?

My doubts were put to rest when I sampled a slice of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting at a Malaysian food court. Don't ask me why I was having carrot cake instead of miscellaneous native food. I was fourteen, and that is my excuse. I was a convert.

I still have trouble trying to convince the younger ones to try carrot cake, but this recipe could change their minds and your life. This could be our basic go-to carrot cake recipe. Yes, I said ours. No big deal.

You can play around with it, adding in cardamom and medjool dates for a more Middle-eastern flavour, or stick with Vanilla for the old-fashioned bakery flavour. And no, it isn't low-fat in any way, shape or form, but I can guarantee that the other nutrients edge out the calorie-counter.

I like the tropical flavours in this cake... you could make this with tinned pineapple, dessicated coconut and the like, but India wins in the Ingredients department for a change. You get these ingredients all year around at Madras. Fresh. Yes.

Sam's Famous Carrot Cake:
(Recipe adapted from:


3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup milk + 1 tbsp vinegar)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
2/3 cup pineapple, chopped
1/3 cup fresh pineapple juice
1 cup raisins


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8x12 inch pan.

Soak the raisins in the fresh pineapple juice for about an hour. Or you can boil the raisins in the juice for a couple of minutes. I used Real Activ Fiber Plus's Mixed Fruit juice, so there would be robust pineapple and carrot flavours.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

In another large bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk (or milk with vinegar), oil, sugar and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 1 minute. Add flour mixture and only FOLD it in, with a spatula.

In a medium bowl, combine shredded carrots, coconut, walnuts, pineapple and raisins with all the juice.

Add the carrot mix to the batter. The batter will be very heavy, so use a proper spatula and all your arm power.

Pour the mix into the prepared baking tin. Bake for around one hour, or until a skewer/toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Take it out, let it cool for around 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the cake from with the tin, with a knife.
Turn it out onto the serving plate. Let it cool for another 15 minutes before serving.

I served this plain, as a snack cake. You can added a dusting of icing sugar or go all out with a cream cheese frosting.

Or serve this to your mum, embellished flowers plucked by your sister from God-knows-where (neighbours' weed garden).

For all those cups of tea.


  1. The combination of ingredients sounds very good. Pineapple with carrots must be very tasty! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Eftychia! Yes, I love the tropical flavours! If you're into carrot cake, you'll find this recipe to be a keeper. :)