Our baby is one!
We’ve had her in our lives for a whole year. And what a year the first year of life is! A baby grows from a shapeless, snuggly bundle of tiny fingers, big eyes, and warmth into a little person who can play peekaboo and demand bananas. It’s been a good year.
A birthday, at our house, calls for a cake. I know there are birthday-pie people and people who think one-year-olds shouldn’t eat sugar (they probably shouldn’t), and we aren’t even really cake people so much but…. Birthday. So cake. I have made this same cake for all three of my little ones’ first birthdays. Here it is.
You can think of this particular cake in two ways. If you want to feel virtuous, you can describe it as a tender, butter-free whole wheat cake, glazed with a maple-sweetened cream cheese frosting, chock full of carrots and tinted pink with beet. If you want to feel honest, you can describe it as a total sugarbomb of a cake, well-suited to any celebratory occasion.
In the past, I’ve grated a beet and squeezed it in cheesecloth to use as pink food coloring. This time, I came across powdered dried beet at my spice shop and gratefully took that less-messy route. I bought about a quarter cup of the stuff. Achieving the magnificently pink hue below required half a teaspoon. Oops. Does anyone need some powdered beet? What should I do with the rest?A First Birthday Cake, or, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting: Combine 2 c. flour (you can use half whole wheat pastry flour if you like) with 2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Beat 2 c. sugar with 1 1/4 c. canola oil with and 4 eggs. When blended, mix in dry ingredients, then 4 c. grated carrots. Pour into two buttered-and-floured 9″ cake pans (I used two 6″ cake pans and had enough left over to make a dozen cupcakes). Bake at 350 until a cake tester comes out clean; my cupcakes took about 25 minutes and the cakes about 35 minutes. Cook on a rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife around to loosen the sides and invert onto the rack to cool completely. Frost with 8 oz. room-temperature cream cheese whipped with 4 Tbsp. butter, 2 C. powdered sugar, and 3 Tbsp. maple syrup. (If your frosting clumps, as mine did, let the ingredients warm up a bit and whip again. If all else fails, send it through your sifter, as I did.)