Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Endless Debate: The frosting to cake ratio!

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And Now: The Frosting to Cake Ratio Debate!

Dessert is subjective much like art and music. This is a good thing as it allows us a much wider selection of choices than we’d have if everyone loved chocolate cake and no one had the drive to invent the lemon square. Can you imagine? I love chocolate as much as the next chocoholic, but sometimes you simply need a lemon square.
However, among us dessert-o-files, there rages the endless debate of the frosting to cake ratio. Truly, sometimes it keeps me up at night. There are those who believe that cake is merely the spongy vessel for the icing. These would be your “icing on top” types. Then there are those who believe frosting is simply a sugar loaded accoutrement for the luscious cake. These are your “let them eat cake” types. Lastly, there are those of us who seek harmony in our confections and endlessly ponder the cake to frosting ratio. These would be the “goodness in every bite” types. We will not discuss non-dessert people. Something has gone terribly awry there and can not be solved in a simple blog about frosting.

When I was young, I was definitely a member of the “icing on tops”. I would eat the sugar roses off my birthday cake until the sweet shock made my eyes spin in different directions. I would completely ignore the cake. As I got older the subtle flavor and texture of a well baked cake won me over, and I would find myself scraping extra frosting off to the side as I became a “let them eat cake” type. Now I seek harmony between the two, looking for the perfect ratio in every bite. Alas, from my own baking efforts and studious attention to the food channel, I have discovered that the cake to frosting ratio is and always will be a matter of personal taste. Shocker! I know.

And so I share with you a recipe from my grandmother’s recipe box. I cherish it because when I read her handwriting I feel like she is in the kitchen with me. This is her carrot cake with cream cheese frosting – something to please the “icing on tops” the “let them eat cakes”and the "goodness in every bites"! Enjoy!

Carrot Cake

1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn all spice
1 tspn cinnamon
1 tspn nutmeg
½ tspn soda
½ tspn salt
3 eggs
2 cups grated carrots
1 cup butter
1 cup chopped nuts

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, all spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, soda and salt together. Separate yolks and whites of eggs. Add yolks, carrots, nuts and butter to dry ingredients. Beat until well mixed (very thick). Fold in 3 beaten egg whites. Pour into a greased tube pan. Bake at 350 for 50 min. Cool. Frost.

Cream cheese frosting

1 8oz cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tspn vanilla

Cream together.

1 cup chopped pecans to decorate.

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Jenn McKinlay SPRNKLE WITH MURDER -- March 2010
(aka Lucy Lawrence -- STUCK ON MURDER -- Sept 2009)

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  1. My stomach growled when I read your recipe (okay, TMI, I know! :) ) You're too funny--kept up at night worrying about the ratio. I agree w/ the personal preference idea: my kids LOVE icing, although too much makes them bounce off the walls. I guess the kids and I will agree to disagree!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Best frosting ever!
    This is almost identical to the frosting recipe my mother-in-law shared with me early in our relationship. My kids go nuts for it, as do their friends. Although it's excellent on carrot cake, as Jenn says, I use it on all my cakes and cupcakes. Seriously - best ever. Love it!

    Thanks, Jenn!

  3. Ha!!! My husband is a frosting nut. I'm more foucsed on the cake. I wonder what a relationship psychologist would say about THAT?! (Also really moved to read about the recipe's connection to your grandmother, Jenn. Those are the best recipes of all, aren't they?)

    Cleo Coyle
    "Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."

  4. I've been looking for a good carrot cake receipe and am so happy that you posted this. IMHO, more frosting is best. For those who like a lot, they are happy; for those who don't, they can scrape and give the extra to me -- er -- somebody who likes a lot. It's a win/win.

  5. I totally agree with Jenn. I use this on white cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes. I like carrot cake because of this icing.

    I do use other icings, depending on the cake, and then I'm a cake to icing ratio eater. But, with this recipe, just give me the icing. I put the leftovers on graham crackers, or just eat the icing.

    Lesa -

  6. Psst, Lesa, I like your graham crcker idea. Don't
    tell my younger son (the frosting nut), but I've been known to freeze leftover frosting and then
    eat it with a spoon when everyone else is asleep.

  7. A carrot cake recipe that doesn't call for oil? Yum!

  8. And no raisins, either! One of the few foods that I simply can't I always have to pick 'em out when I order carrot cake. Must give this delectable one a try!

  9. I will admit, as I have gotten older, I like a little less icing on my cake. Although, if the cake is horrible, a good icing can help it go down. "MMmm, the icing is delicious. Oh, look at that shiny object in the corner..."

    A good carrot cake recipe is worth the cliche gold. But, everyone seems to have their own ideas as to what goes into the recipe. Nuts...raisins...chunks of carrot...zucchini...

    Do you use a lot of your grandmother's recipes? Both of my grandmothers were horrible cooks. You are lucky to have a recipe legacy. :-)

  10. Do you use a lot of your grandmother's recipes? Both of my grandmothers were horrible cooks. You are lucky to have a recipe legacy. :-)

    One of my grandmothers was the sort of cook who could whip up an eight course meal with an egg, a pitcher of lemonade and a ruttabega. Seriously! I'm not that gifted, but it is her recipe box that I cling to for guidance. I especially enjoy the handwritten notes and substitutions. -Jenn