Sometimes a few forkfuls of something deemed celebratory are a good thing on an ordinary day. A salve to a week that seemed particularly long, a festive treat enjoyed “just because”, or a choice to conclude a difficult day with a jubilant kind of sustenance, food that carries thoughts of celebration along with it can be a means of expressing thanks for all that is good and worth celebrating in life when had for no particular reason. This olive oil carrot cake is just that; after a tiring week I found myself clutching a mixing bowl filled with frosting, slathering scoops of the cream cheese confection onto these little orange speckled cakes. I wanted to celebrate with no basis at all, no birthday or anniversary or party to make it for, batter whipped and baked and frosted simply because it was a rainy Friday and a special dessert seemed rightful. I hope this cake, a spin on traditional carrot cake with a few good glugs of fragrant olive oil replacing the butter, brings a spirit of groundless celebration into your kitchen too.
Olive Oil Carrot Cake
makes one 13” x 9” sheet cake
For the cake:
1 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups shredded carrots, carrot tops reserved
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13” x 9” baking dish with a bit of olive oil.
With a stand mixer, beat the olive oil and sugar together on high until the mixture is light in color, about 3 minutes or so. Add the eggs and beat for an additional minute. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt then add to the mixing bowl along with the vanilla, mixing until just incorporated. Fold in the shredded carrots gently with a spatula. Pour into the greased baking dish, and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out fairly clean when poked into the center of the cake.
Allow to cool completely, even overnight in the refrigerator, before topping with frosting. If you like, use a biscuit or cookie cutter to create little individual circular cakes from the sheet cake, as shown in the pictures above.
For the frosting:
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat together the cream cheese and butter with a mixer until combined and fluffy. Gradually incorporate the powdered sugar while mixing, then the vanilla.
Frost the cake after it’s cooled completely, either cutting into circles or leaving as a sheet cake, and topping with the reserved carrot tops as a garnish (optional).