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Let Them Eat Cake!

I was loading the dishwasher the other night when my 2 year old walked down the hall, into the kitchen, with his robot dinosaur in tow.

He got this robot dinosaur for Christmas that walks and roars and navigates and responds to sounds – the thing even has surround-sound hearing, and can tell if you come up to him on the left or right. My niece bought him at Winners, on sale for $40. It seemed fun on Christmas morning, but this particular evening it suddenly struck me as very Jetson-esque, instantly making me long for the blocks my Dad made us out of old two by fours.

Besides new kitchen gadgets and the bottomless resource we know as the internet, part of the appeal of cooking is that it has been unaffected by technology. The butter tarts my Grandma made are still the best ones, and require no more than a bowl and her old pastry cutter. After the dinosaur incident, I curled up on the couch with some old cookbooks I have – one dessert book in particular I bought at a garage sale last summer for 25 cents. It was dated 1964, had something ornate and gelatinous on the cover, and when I opened it, some yellowed newspaper clippings fell out. These are the best treasures for me – I love seeing what people bother to snip out of the newspaper or cut off of packages.

Among the clippings was a recipe for a carrot-raisin-nut cake. Pretty typical stuff for the early 70s, actually, but upon closer inspection it seems this recipe is nutritionally ahead of its time. No margarine, shortening or white flour is called for. I had all the ingredients – even some stone-ground whole wheat flour from Highwood Crossing – so I baked one. Canola oil instead of the corn, and dark Demerara sugar is what I suspect they meant by "Barbados" brown sugar. It's delicious.

Carrot Raisin Nut Cake

1 cup stone ground whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup unrefined corn oil (I used canola)
½ cup Barbados brown sugar (I used dark brown or Demerrara)
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups grated raw carrots
½ cup raisins
½ cup walnuts

Oil and flour (or spray) an 8” or 9” round cake pan. (An 8”x8” pan works well too.) Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, stir the sugar into the oil. Beat the eggs into the mixture one at a time, until well blended and fluffy. Stir in the dry ingredients, carrots, raisins and walnuts and mix just until blended.

Pour into the pan and bake at 325° F for 30 minutes, until the cake is golden and springy to the touch. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. If you like, spread with cream cheese frosting.

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