Baking has been a source of pleasure for me since I first experimented with some of Martha's recipes about fifteen years ago. While I don't bake all that frequently, there is something so comforting about creating something delicious by hand.
Yesterday, when I awoke to a foggy, rainy day and the prospect of not being able to go outdoors at all, I was determined to bake. I knew exactly which recipe to choose, too. On page 69 of the April issue of Martha Stewart Living there is a glorious cake, a confectionery hybrid of sorts, by food editor Greg Lofts. It's a combination Hummingbird/Carrot cake complete with candied carrots on top, just to gild the lily.
What makes the recipe so delicious is the addition of pineapple puree and sweetened coconut flakes to the batter, which also takes three cups of grated carrots, making it a rich, textured, moist cake. The recipe calls for the baker to grate the carrots using the fine side of a box grater to achieve smaller 'flakes' of carrots that will absorb well into the batter. I attempted this but found it very labour intensive to reach three cups worth. I instead used my food processor, first shredding the carrots on the grating attachment and then using the blade attachment on pulse to further chop them. The batter is divided into two 8x2 inch cake pans and baked for 35 minutes. It comes out beautifully: light, moist and textured.
The recipe suggests curling them around the handle of a wooden spoon, or even your finger, to make the curls. I found it much easier to to lie the sticky carrot slices flat on a clean baking sheet and twist them: hold one end of the slice with one finger and then twist the strip with your other hand until a curl forms. Covering the pan with a sprinkling of sugar prevents them from sticking and also coats them nicely with some extra sweet crunch. Let them stand for about one hour until they stiffen.