I'm Kind Of Obsessed With This 200-Year-Old Cake Recipe
George Washington feasted on this cake in 1783. And I feasted on it last week.
You read that right: George Washington, the first president of good ol' US of A*, ate this cake on British Evacuation Day in 1783.
That day, he rode his horse down Broadway in Manhattan to the Fraunces Tavern. There he gave 13 symbolic toasts at a huge feast.
Then he ate this cake. It's a carrot cake, but not that cream-cheese-frosting-clogged concoction we know and love today.
No, instead it's a perfectly-spiced, just-sweet-enough, all-you-need-is-some-fresh-whipped-cream dream of a cake.
Its secret lies in the carrots: it uses a little less sugar than cakes today, and relies on cooked, grated carrots to add that extra sweetness.
So it ends up sweet, but not overpoweringly sweet. And the carrot-cooking isn't too involved: you just boil 'em for 5 minutes.
It's also a relatively easy cake to prep — I had it in the oven in about 30 minutes.
You cream the butter and sugar, add a bunch of eggs one at a time, sift together the flour and spices, then fold those into the butter-sugar-egg mixture. Simple, not too messy, and you can re-use the medium flour-and-spices bowl to make fresh whipped cream.
I love this cake, and not just because it's an excuse to eat a bunch of fresh whipped cream. It's perfectly spiced, with a texture somewhere between cake and banana bread. I ate it every night for a week, and I *still* crave it.
Here's the recipe, if you want to try it at home.
FRAUNCES TAVERN CARROT TEA CAKE
Servings: 12 to 16
4 medium carrots, trimmed and peeled
Butter and flour for prepping the pan
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
Whipped cream for serving
CAKE NOTE: You can cook the carrots until soft and then mash and strain them of juice as would have been done in the old days. Or you can cook the carrots until they just begin to soften, let them cool, and grate them using a cheese grater to get streaks of carrot throughout the cake.
Place the peeled carrots in a saucepan with 1" of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and, when boiling, reduce the heat to medium and let the carrots simmer until they begin to soften, 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and drain off the water. Let the carrots cool in the pan.
Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10" springform pan, shake out the excess flour, and set the pan aside.
Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and beat until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are smooth and satiny, 4 to 5 minutes of beating in total. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and fold into the batter with a wooden spoon. Set aside.
Grate the cooled carrots to yield 2 cups. Fold the carrots into the batter. Turn the batter into the prepared pan, and place the pan in the oven.
Bake the cake until it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and unfasten the collar of the springform pan. Run a knife underneath the cake to free it from the bottom of the pan, and place it on a serving platter. Slice and serve warm with the whipped cream.
Reprinted from American Cake by Anne Byrn. Copyright (c) 2016 by Anne Byrn. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.