Birthday Cake No. 2 And A Shout-Out To Mary Miller Wherever You Are!

carrot cake

carrot cake

So like I said in my last post – I made Nico TWO cakes for his birthday. The second one was this carrot cake. Very basic – most basic. No raisins. No currants. No pineapple. And I don’t even do the walnuts. Although I haven’t made this cake since I was in my 20s – honest – I remembered it’s pure, simple, straight-forward deliciousness and I loved that it was made with oil and not butter and at the time that I learned the recipe that really impressed me – no idea why but it did. I got this recipe from my college friend Mary Miller. I have lost touch with her – no idea how to find her. I knew her when I lived in San Francisco and we used to hang out. She was great. She came from a big Catholic family of mostly girls I think – and the ones I met were beautiful. One of the sisters worked for the phone company and climbed telephone poles and she was tiny and really, really pretty and she did this totally tough person’s job. I was totally impressed. Mary’s parents had a big house on the Russian River that we went to a couple of times. Once I took a couple other friends with me to the River house and I am confident that none of us were welcome but her parents let us stay the night any way (well-bred, good manners and all that). I’m not sure how long Mary and I were friends after that but she made a big impression and I really enjoyed her spirit and her laugh which was big and came from deep within. She was great and we had lots of fun together and lots of laughs. So even though I don’t know where Mary is – this cake is hers and now, yours. A big shout-out to Mary Miller. I think she would be impressed that I still remember this cake but not only that – I have researched carrot cakes for days and I still think this is the best.

CARROT CAKE (from Mary Miller in S.F., CA)

Cake: Preheat oven to 350°

Grease and flour three-8” round pans or two-9” pans


2 cups sifted flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt Sift together in a bowl (or whisk together which is what I do)

1 ½ cups salad oil

2 cups sugar

Mix well in a different larger bowl:

3 cups grated carrots

4 eggs

Add eggs one at a time to the oil mixture. Beat well after each addition. Gradually add dry ingredients to the oil/egg mixture and mix well. Add carrots and mix well. Divide batter into the pans. If using 2 pans bake for about 50-minutes – but start checking at 40-minutes If using 3 pans bake for less time – check at around 30-minutes. Don’t over bake. Check for doneness by gently pressing the center of the cake to see if it springs back or use a cake tester/toothpick/wooden skewer, etc. and insert into middle of cake to see if it comes out clean – which means ‘done.’ Cool on a rack in the pans for 10-minutes then tip out of the pans and continue cooling until completely cool. Then frost.



1/2 cup butter – room temperature

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese – room temperature

1 box powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Beat butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy using a hand or electric mixer Add in the box of powdered sugar gradually. Add in 1 tsp vanilla Add in 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

After cake is completely cooled. Put the first layer on a pretty platter and put a thick film of frosting on the top. Put the next layer on top and press down. Repeat if using a third-layer. Frost the rest of the cake with the remaining frosting by dumping most of the remaining frosting on the top of the cake and moving the frosting out towards the sides using a long, narrow spatula. Using the last of the frosting – frost around the sides of the cake. Decorate the cake with edible flowers. Eat. So delicious. Everyone will say so.

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