Sunday, April 22, 2012

Carrot cake bake-off results

Note pictured: cake #6, which was a little late to the party.

There was a lot of smack talk leading up to the last book club. As you may recall, we had decided to get a definitive answer to the age-old question: what's the best carrot cake out there?

First, let's meet our contenders.

Are they not all gorgeous? The judges (2 non-participating book club members, one husband, two THRILLED elementary school kids) decided on two winners. The Best Looking and the Best Tasting. As it turns out, the same cake won both. I'll tell you which number in a minute. Go ahead and pick your favorite.

I've posted the recipe I used before. (Hi, Kate! Yes, your friend's!) That cake is a fairly substantial cake, with a lot of personality. I used the buttercream frosting recipe off the back of the powdered sugar box. Frankly, I was going for the looks category, as I think a good, moist carrot cake tastes much like the next. (And after tasting all 6, I'm sticking with that assessment. They were all very tasty.)

The winner looked like someone had just bought it from a fancy bakery. It's a lighter texture and flavor than my cake.


Jean-Marie reports that she found the carrot cake recipe on It is:

4 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.

2.  In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.

3.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

To make frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Frost the cooled cake.
No word on how to make it so pretty, though. Apparently you'll have to figure that out yourself. She did mention having a set of those fancy icing tips, so you'll want to run out and purchase those. I used a ziplock bag with a corner cut off, as is traditional in my household.


(Drumroll, etc.) The winner was NUMBER FIVE! Yes, congrats to NUMBER FIVE, made by our own dear Jean-Marie! I did get an honorable mention for my marzipan carrots, lovingly made by me, using bits of pistachio for the green stems. Several people were surprised they weren't real baby carrots. Apparently not everyone wants raw baby carrots on their cake. Who knew!

Bonus shot of my cake. Because, hey. It's my blog. 

So that was a fun evening. We didn't actually talk about the book much. It was InĂ©s of my Soul by Isabel Allende. Next month's is The Fault in our Stars by John Green.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


This is one of my favorite photos of me. I'm just chilling on the rocky shore of Loon Lake, MN, rockin' the post-triathlon body. I was bleaching my hair for awhile, but I decided it just wasn't me. I'm pretty low maintenance.

Really, it's my homage to Adu Gindy. I'm sure my artwork will remind everyone of her seminal work, The Brighton Beach Barbies. Sadly, I can't find a single image online.

Duluth artist Adu Gindy parodied photographer Craig Blacklock’s series “Lake Superior Nudes” by shooting photos of Barbie dolls posed on lakeside rocks.
Titled “The Brighton Beach Barbies,” the work was Gindy’s commentary on the objectification and artificiality she perceived in Blacklock’s work. The opening reception was literally packed. What was to be a one-night affair grew into a three-week show.

N and I are nothing if not totally hip to the Duluth, MN cultural scene, man. We are sooo hip. We make cultural references so obscure that I'm not even sure where this blog post is going, man.

For the back-backstory, Craig Blacklock's work, A Voice Within - The Lake Superior Nudes (NSFW) Please, to note that the model (his wife) apparently is actually named "Honey."

Quick rule for determining whether it's p0rn or art? If it's in black and white, it's art. (rimshot)