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Aunt Lois’ Carrot Cake

  

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A very generous piece of carrot cake!

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A mid-century cake on a mid-century platter

Carrots, pineapple and nuts folding into the cake batter

Carrots, pineapple and nuts folding into the cake batter

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Carrot Cake batter ready to pour into 3 round prepared cake pans

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Softened raisins and chopped walnuts sprinkled over the first and 2nd layers of cake that have been thinly spread with the Cream Cheese Frosting

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Raisins softened in boiling water, now draining extra water on paper towels waiting next to chopped walnuts

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The first layer thinly spread with Cream Cheese Frosting

The favorite cake of my mom, Sonia Sanders, and my husband, Dave Frurip. Mom and I have been making this since 1970. This is recipe is from my dad’s sister, Lois Zuro. Since Dave has diabetes now, he asked that I make the cake so he and I can each eat one piece and then he would share the rest with his co-workers. That was a good plan that worked out well.

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

4 eggs, beaten well

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

3 cups grated carrot, do not pack, but lightly spoon into measuring cups, abut 1 pound

1 15-ounce can unsweetened crushed pineapple, drained well, OPTIONAL

  • Butter and flour three 8 or 9-inch round baking pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large mixer bowl blend sugar and oil. Add well beaten eggs and blend well.
  • In a large bowl combine dry ingredients and whisk together thoroughly. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and stir till just blended.
  • Stir in nuts and carrots. Add pineapple if desired.
  • Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 25-35 minutes.
  • Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, the cake is done. Also check to see that the cake has slightly pulled away from the sides of the baking pan.
  • Let cool 20 minutes or so on cooling racks.
  • When cakes are cool enough to handle, remove from baking pans by inverting onto racks.
  • Cool completely. Cover with Saran if you do no plan to frost them the same day.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 Tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 pound or 4 cups powdered sugar

8 ounce cream cheese, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1-3 teaspoons lemon juice, to your taste of tartness

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 cup raisins which have been softened in boiling water and drained well

  • In a mixing bowl combine butter and cream cheese and beat well.
  • Add powdered sugar and beat well. Add vanilla and lemon juice and blend.
  • If icing appears too thin, add more powdered sugar.
  • Spread a thin coat of icing on the top of the first layer of cake. Sprinkle with half the nuts and raisins.
  • Spread a thin layer on both sides of the 2nd layer of cake.
  • Sprinkle the remaining nuts and raising on the 2nd layer of cake.
  • Spread a thin layer on the bottom side of the 3rd layer of cake.
  • Using a narrow metal spatula or knife, ice the side of the cake and finally the top of the cake.

Baklava

Baklava baked and cut in diamond shapes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an authentic Greek recipe from Mercin Karris of Midland Michigan. She made this for her family and the annual Greek Festival in Saginaw Michigan. When I made the recipe her husband George would critique it for me. I have enjoyed making this for 30 years with heartfelt appreciation for George and Mercin.

1 lb package frozen phyllo leaves, measuring 14 inches x 18 inches (follow package directions for thawing. If phyllo starts to crack, let thaw  longer at room temperature)

1 lb salted butter or more, melted

2-3 lbs walnuts, chopped coarsely, or as desired

3 tablespoons cinnamon

Syrup:

4 cups sugar

3 cups water

1/2 lemon

2-3 inch cinnamon sticks

1/2 cup honey

In a large saucepan combine the sugar, water, lemon and cinnamon sticks. Whisk together and heat to a simmer. Continue simmering uncovered. Keep an eye on this as you proceed with the baklava. The goal is to have room temperature syrup that is the consistancy of Karo syrup. As you complete the baklava, cool a tiny amount in the freezer. Then place a drop on your thumb nail. This drop should not roll off.

Add the ground cinnamon to the chopped walnuts and mix.

Use a shallow baking sheet measuring about 14 inches x 18 inches x 1 1/2 inches. Brush the bottom and sides with butter.

  • Compiling the baklava involves layering the leaves of phyllo and brushing each layer with melted butter.
  • You should use at least 1 pound of butter, but not over 1 1/4 pounds.
  • For the bottom layers, place 6 leaves of phyllo brushing each layer with butter.
  • If the leaves are too large for the pan, fold the excess towards the center. Switch sides of the folds to make an even pastry. The center layers continue with phyllo and butter with the addition of 2 or 3 handfuls of walnuts sprinkled on top.
  • As you make several layers with nuts, count out the last 6 layers of phyllo. These are the top layers and should be phyllo and butter only as the bottom layers without the nuts.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Before baking, cut the baklava. Your skills for cutting and visualizing even measurements determines how you go about this. You can use a ruler if you want.
  • I use dental floss to mark out 6 lengthwise strips. Then I use a sharp paring knife to cut these strips.
  • Then I use the dental floss to mark out the diagonal corners across the baklava. Cut through this center diagonal line with the knife.
  • At this point I use my eye to cut the remaining strips in parallel to the center diagonal.
  • The end products are diamond shape baklava measuring about 4 inches by 1 1/5 inches. If you want smaller pieces, start out with 7 or 8 lengthwise strips.
  • Before baking, check your syrup. If it is ready, pour into a ceramic bowl and add honey. Cool quickly  to room temperature over ice. The goal is to pour cold syrup over hot baklava. Set the syrup aside to cool.
  • Place the baklava in the hot oven. Sprinkle a wet hand of water over the baklava to promote a crisp crust. Bake about 30 minutes or until just starting to turn a light toasted color.  Do not overbake.
  • Remove from the oven and recut with a sharp knife.
  • Pour the cold syrup over the hot baklava. Cool overnight before serving. Syrup absorbs into pastry as it cools. Wait to  serve until there is no more syrup pooling in the baking pan.
  • You can make this large quantity and freeze part for another time.  When ready to serve I like to use a paper cupcake liner for each piece
  •  You can use pistachios instead of walnuts. Another flavor to sprinkle on is rose water just before and/or after baking.