Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake

I love carrot cake, and it’s not just because of the thick layer of rich cream cheese frosting.  This recipe for carrot-pecan loaf cake is for the carrot cake purists as it’s so packed with flavor that it doesn’t need any frosting to make it totally irresistible.  The brown sugar topping provides a nice crunch and just a shot of sweetness which makes this hearty cake perfect for breakfast, snacking, or dessert.
Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake- BonAppetit2
A closeup shot of all the goodness.  Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake- BonAppetit7

Carrot-Pecan Loaf Cake

(from Bon Appetit)
Makes one 9″x5″ loaf

Ingredients

1 cup canola oil, plus more
1¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour; plus more
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces carrots, coarsely grated (about 2 cups or 2 1/2 large carrots)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Lightly oil and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan.
  3. Whisk baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and 1 ¼ cups flour in a small bowl.
  4. Toss raisins, walnuts, and remaining 1 Tbsp. flour in another bowl.
  5. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat eggs and granulated sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  6. With mixer running, gradually drizzle in 1 cup oil,
  7. then add vanilla.
  8. Fold in dry ingredients, raisin mixture, and carrots;
  9. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
  10. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
  11. Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 65–75 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: Bake up to 2 days ahead. Store wrapped at room temperature.

A Brief Interruption from Baking and Cooking…

During the past two weeks I’ve been totally consumed with my non-baking but equally enjoyable hobby, ballroom dancing.  I was prepping for the US Nationals competition in Orlando, FL (and also baking a bit here and there in between), and my preparation throughout the year was kind of like building a big, intricate multi-layered cake.  I’ve been working on the different layers of my dancing, and at Nationals, I was finally able to bring it all together into one sweet experience.

USDC 2015- 7

I competed in the pro-am open Smooth division with my coach, Max, and was really pleased with how I danced.

USDC15_45903-(ZF-5300-78246-1-001) USDC15_52679-(ZF-5300-78246-1-003) USDC15_53972-(ZF-5300-78246-1-002)

Peas and Bacon

It’s not easy making frozen vegetables taste delicious, but with the help of a little bacon and some shallots, frozen peas are transformed into a quick and easy side dish that everyone will want seconds of.
Peas & Bacon- Ina Garten

Peas and Bacon

(Adapted from Ina Garten’s “Make It Ahead”)
Makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 ounces bacon (1/4″ dice)
1 large shallot (halved and sliced)
10 ounces box frozen peas
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium (10-inch) sauté pan.  Add the bacon and shallot, and cook over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is browned and the shallot is tender.
  2. Add the frozen peas, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and cook over medium-low heat for 4 to 5 minutes, until the peas are hot.
  3. Taste for seasonings, and serve.