One of the best Mother's Day surprises came from my daughter via Facetime. “Have you ever been to Mount Rushmore? Look, isn't it beautiful?!” And there it was in all of its glory
“Wait, what, you're where?”
Pretty soon, there was my grandson, who I haven't seen in gosh, over a year? “Grandma, Mom came to pick me up in Montana. When we get home to Iowa, can we go out for pink ice cream?”
Oh Loves, you have no idea how much I'd love to. But probably not for a while ..
— — —
Last week, the kitties and I had an afternoon outing. New hair for them, and a few hours of (I wasn't quite sure what) for me
Stopping by the grocery for a couple of things, I noticed the seating area was open, along with my favorite booth by the window. The one with all of the outlets. The one I've sat in for years. The one I've written post after post from while eating soup from the deli and sipping tea from the nearby Starbucks.
“Are people allowed to sit?” I asked longingly
“Yesterday was the first day.”
In the end, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Certainly, there was the fear of (so many!) unknown surfaces, but also, how quickly had I become conditioned in another direction. So I spent the next few hours reading in my car outside the groomer.
A friend and I have been keeping each other's spirits up and sending lots of quarantine hugs up from afar. “How long do you think until we'll see each other in person again?”
“Over chai lattes at the downtown coffee shop .. “
— — —
I'm especially mindful not to let my days become an exercise in emotional torture
How could I ever have known how good I had it writing from my comfy booth, and seeing the people I love? Or going to a weekend matinee with my husband, afternoons working at the office, sipping from big bowls of ramen at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, a nightcap and a movie at the martini bar on Sunday nights
It's surprising to discover just how many coffee shops, dive bars, and restaurants were woven into life's little moments of happiness. I know I'll hug my friends and family again one day, but what about the places where we used to congregate? Their future, and that of the millions of people who work in them? It feels less than certain.
Like a lot of people, we've been doing what we can to support their carry-out efforts. At the same time, it never feels like enough. So it was fun to read about Family Meal, the six-dollar(!) digital-only cookbook that features recipes from our favorite foodies. 100% of the proceeds go directly toward the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation COVID Crisis Relief Fund.
It's hard to go wrong. Eric Ripert's Mushroom Bolognese, Deb Perelman's Stovetop Mac & Cheese, Nisha Vora's Banana Chocolate-Chip Sheet Pancakes, and of course Adeena Sussman’s Carrot Snacking Cake with Labneh Frosting, which was firmly in my sights this week
I suspect you've never made a carrot cake in this way before, and I'm here to encourage you to give it a try.
The tahini is the wild card here, and it permeates the cake in a subtle but steady way, not at all overpowering. Bonus points for the cake being a breeze to make – twenty minutes tops to get it into the oven. Perfect when you want a little something to bake, but don't feel like spending a big chunk of time in the kitchen.
I love that its now a part of my repertoire.
I made a few minor tweaks to the original – most are stylistic more than anything. I kept the spices to a minimum and, aside from the walnuts, resisted the urge to add any of the other ingredients that commonly show up in carrot cakes – crushed pineapple, ginger, nutmeg, etc., etc.
I'd certainly suggest playing around with different add-ins of your own in future versions.
A few notes about the recipe
This is one of those cakes where I think using regular sugar is the way to go. There's plenty going on with the interplay between the tahini, labneh, carrots, and olive oil – and I'm not sure adding less refined natural sugar would be the best decision
If you're following a gluten-free diet, I've substituted gluten-free oat flour for the all-purpose and had great results. Your favorite 1:1 substitute GF All-Purpose flour like Bob's Red Mill or Cup for Cup will work well too.
The frosting is on the thin to runny side. If you're hoping for something more traditional, I'd probably whip some cream cheese with a splash of maple syrup or agave, but not much beyond that either.
If you're taking it to a picnic or putting a piece in your Sweetie's lunchbox, it might be nice to forgo a frosting all-together and instead do a light dusting of powdered sugar.
Carrot Snacking Cake with Labneh Frosting
- 1 ¼ cup whole milk
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 egg (large or XL)
- 1 Tbsp tahini
- ½ Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp fine grain sea salt
- ¾ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ cups grated carrots (1 - 2 large carrots)
- 1 cup labneh (or full-fat Greek yogurt)
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 ¼ tsp vanilla extract (clear, if you have it)
- ¼ tsp lemon zest
- pinch of sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 9" baking dish and line with parchment paper, leaving a slight over-hang so (hopefully) you can lift it out easily
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, egg, tahini, and vanilla extract.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the sugar, coconut, and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
- Gently whisk the wet ingredients into the dry, then add the grated carrot.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, then gently lift out (by the parchment paper) and onto a rack to cool completely.
- Whisk together the labneh, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt.
- When the cake is cool, drizzle with glaze and serve