Flowers for Mom

Did I ever tell you I once had my own personal chef?

My chef would often create dishes with the veritable ease and skill of an Iron Chef, but with few ingredients, and even fewer, fancy gadgets.

I shall refer to her as "Chef Mom," because that is who she was, and still is today.

Sadly though, once mom retired to the state of Florida (as required by law), the pampering stopped. But this is not where the story ends. In the next chapter, you'll see how mom's culinary influence gave me the confidence to return the favor.

So this Mother's Day, I'll be indulging her sweet tooth with a classic dessert, her favorite, Carrot Cake.

No roses on mom's cake — she prefers daisies.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 ½ cups AP flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound carrots, peeled and finely shredded
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chopped walnuts, or pecans

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 2, 9-inch pans with parchment paper, and grease lightly. Grease and flour a small (3 to 4-inch) ovenproof bowl.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, ground cloves and salt. Set aside.

Place eggs and both sugars in a mixer bowl with a wire whisk, and whip them on high, until light and airy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and slowly add the oil in a thin stream, until mixture is light in color and emulsified.

Stir in the carrots, walnuts and flour mixture, until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake about 40 minutes for the 9-inch pans, and about 20 for the small bowl cake. Cool cakes in their pans 15 minutes, then remove from pans and place on wire racks to cool completely, before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Heavy cream

Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, whip the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until light. Stop mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add all the confectioner’s sugar and mix on low, until incorporated.
Add just enough heavy cream to create a medium consistency frosting.

You could replicate this simple cake for any Spring or Summer event. If you decide to, you're also going to need 1½ pounds of rolled fondant. I like Satin Ice, but homemade fondant will be just fine.

To decorate: Cover cakes with a thin layer of frosting. Allow frosting to set up. Tint a little of the fondant a mossy green, for the leaves.
Roll out fondant very thin, and cut out as many leaves as you like, to go around the bottom edge of the cake.

Roll out white fondant, and cut the daisy petals with a 3½-inch tear drop or oval-shaped cutter (Keep the fondant covered with plastic wrap while you work, to keep it from drying out).

To vein the petals, place each one onto a dry corn husk, cover with a piece of thin foam, or plastic wrap, and roll over it with an artist's brayer.
Add three thin layers of petals onto the cake, starting just above the leaves, and working your way up. Pinch the petals at the top edge before placing them on the cake.

Tint a small amount of fondant yellow. Roll it out, and cover the small round cake, neatly tucking the ends under. Place it on the flower, as shown. After the fondant has dried, you could brush it with gold petal dust.

So what're you still doing up at this ungodly hour!?

(I suppose you could say my bossy tendencies are yet another trait I inherited from dear ol' mom).

But seriously, go to bed. And don't forget to brush.

I'll be joining Foodie Friday.

Happy Mother's Day to my Foodie Brigade!