The long winter starts getting to me right about now every year. I start getting sick of layering up sweaters and socks to go outside. I start wishing for beaches and sunshine and little paper umbrellas floating in cool, brightly colored drinks.
Lucky for me, we have the perfect prescription here at Drowsy Water Ranch. We share this little secret with our family and friends each summer at our Colorado Dude Ranch. It cures my dreams of islands and my addiction to saltwater.
I’m going to share our cure with you; I’m going to show you how we make our mouth-watering carrot cake. And, let me tell you, this Drowsy Water Ranch Carrot Cake does it all: it warms the belly and the soul, ridding you of any winter time blahs. . .(or any time of year blahs. . .I’m pretty sure I could come up with a darn good reason to eat this stuff any day of the year).
The recipe is actually from the mother of Mark Hammar. Mark worked at the ranch for years and years and was like a big brother to Justin. Mark told me that, one time when he was watching young Justin while Ken and Randy Sue were away, he asked Justin to go choose a book to read before bed. You want to know what the seven-year-old version of my husband brought back? A tractor manual. What a weirdo. He still reads tractor manuals for kicks.
Anyways, thanks to Mark’s mother for a wonderful recipe that has been used and enjoyed at Drowsy Water Ranch time and time again.
Back to the cake. . .The best part of this particular carrot cake baking episode was that Jen and Lauren came over to help. We shared a few cups of hot tea, laughs as plentiful as the snowflakes, and smiles as warm as our Colorado sunshine. (okay–that was super corny–but it’s true!) We missed Ryan, who is back at school, and you will probably miss Ryan too when you see how unprofessional our photos became without him.
First, we gathered all our goods. We have carrots, of course, and eggs, oil, flour, sugar, baking soda, vanilla, walnuts, and the secret weapons: coconut and pineapple. Then we all got started on cake related jobs.
Jen shredded and cooked the carrots. Yes, cooked them. That is also secret weapon material: cooked carrots. The carrot flavor is sweeter that way.
And, just to reemphasize my point from the Cowboy Cookie entry about not being able to stop yourself from laughing hysterically while someone is taking photos of your hands, check out how funny those silly carrots are to Jen.
And, geez, mixing all those dry ingredients is hilarious. Or at least it is to Lauren! Wha-ha-ha-ha! (evil cackle!) Cinnamon, flour, salt, and baking soda must make a funny combination.
Surprisingly, I was dealing with those initial “wet” ingredients:
the eggs, vanilla, oil, etc. And somehow, my face didn’t make it into the shot. Guess I can’t make fun of myself. What a bummer. (Note: if I was the seven year old version of myself, I would have entered a big “NOT!!” after the word bummer, but I am way more mature than that now.)
Then, to the wet ingredients, we added those secret, winter-blues-beating weapons: the coconut, the pineapple, and the cooked carrots.
We added the flour mix to the island dream mixture, and then Jen “accidentally” threw her hand into the bowl before “accidentally” thrusting her finger towards her tongue. Wha-ha-ha-ha! (Darn that evil cackle!)
We poured the batter into a cake pan, then baked it at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. While we waited for our creation to solidify, we gathered ourselves and tried to relax our aching sides with a couple cups of tea.
Finally, the timer beeped and we all sighed and stared fondly as we removed our newest golden- brown creation from the oven.
Then we got going on the next delicious chore: the cream cheese frosting. This little concoction of cheese, butter, and sugar is what make the cake just send us over the edge right into palm tree themed paradise.
At last, taste testing time is here. Our mouths watered. Our taste buds swelled. And, alas, our hearts sang.
Drowsy Water Ranch Carrot Cake
1 1/2 C. flour
1 1/4 C. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 C. cooked shredded carrots
2/3 C. oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 C. crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 C. shredded coconut
1/2 C. chopped walnuts
Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl. In separate bowl combine carrots, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add carrot mixture to flour mixture, beat well. Stir in pineapple, coconut, and walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 C. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 C. powdered sugar
Blend cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.