by Kate Heyhoe
Keywords: all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, butter, carrot, cinnamon, cloves, date, egg, ginger, molasses, nutmeg, pecan, salt, sugar, vanilla extract, whole wheat flour, yogurt
When we first moved up to the mountains in 1993, I forgot that cooking, baking in particular, was a whole different ballgame in the higher elevations. At 5000 feet, the rule of thumb is to use only half the amount of baking soda and baking powder called for in a recipe. My first attempt in making this recipe used exactly the same amount of baking powder called for here, which is fine for all you "flatlanders," but for me it was a disaster!
After the first 5 minutes of placing the batter in the oven I smelled something burning. Yes, the batter was bubbling energetically right out of the pan, over the sides and onto the oven floor. It continued to do this with great fervor, resembling the molten orange lava seen on nature shows, while I pulled out a baking sheet to put on the rack below. I scraped up the already cooked batter drippings and continued cooking the loaves.
And they continued bubbling over. I couldn't believe how long the eruption process was taking. I was equally dumbfounded at how little baking soda it takes to produce such a tremendous quantity of carbon dioxide gas, all because the atmospheric pressure is different. Finally, after about 15 minutes, things started to settle down and the overflow of carrot-cake magma had ceased.
By now the batter was baked into solid streams, as if frozen mid-motion, down the sides of the pan, and orange stalactites hung from the oven rack. Igneous pools of the crisply baked stuff flowed in rounded layers and mounds on the baking sheet. Lest the smoke alarm react with its annoying screech, I removed as much baked lava from the sheet and oven as possible.
Amazingly enough, the crisp, crunchy "mistakes" that had overflown the pans were delicious. They were like little cookies, and the ones with the weird shapes and browner undersides were the best. Thomas and I ate these sweet, spicy morsels with vanilla ice-cream and remarked on how I should have added even more baking powder. I might even create a new way of making cookies, called the Vesuvius method. Just set a pan of batter over a couple of baking sheets and let 'er rip. You have to be quick though at replacing the baking sheets once they fill up, otherwise you'll end up with a lava bed for an oven floor.
I'm getting carried away. But rest assured, this recipe really is delicious just as it is written here. As long as you are cooking at or near sea level, you will end up with two lovely, moist, carrot-cake like loaves. and if you're cooking at 5000 feet elevation, then grab some baking sheets and be prepared to catch yourself some drippy little lava cookies. Yum!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and lightly flour two 9x5-inch loaf pans.
In a large mixing bowl, blend together the all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, molasses and vanilla extract. Mix in the eggs and yogurt until well blended. Stir in the dates, pecans and carrots.
Quickly stir the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture until just mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake 1 hour, or until the sides of the loaves pull away from the pan and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool the loaves in their pans for 5 minutes. Then remove and cool them completely on wire racks.
© 1997, Katherine Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
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