To fully appreciate the depth of my excitement over my recent LG Kitchen Memory Rescue experience, I’ll have to share the following background information:
1. Growing up, my mom wasn’t the traditional “pleasantville”-type nurturer. She cooked, yes, and she kept a wonderful home, but baking was not her strength. For the first 20-some years of my life, she only baked one particular cake – semolina-based with raisins. (I disliked it.) Later, in the early 2000s, she expanded her repertoire to include a carrot cake and banana bread.
The good news? I really, really love carrot cake.
2. You know who else loves carrot cake? My childhood best friend, Victoria. In fact, in our early 20s, while everyone else was ordering slices of chocolate truffle and caramel crunch cakes, we were the “uncool” girls enjoying a slice of densely spiced, heavily frosted carrot cake. The combination of earthy carrots, crunchy walnuts and sweetened cream cheese was too irresistible to pass up. In fact, I went on to select carrot cake as my wedding cake and Victoria as my maid of honour.
3. At some point in my mid-twenties, inspired by Chef Anna Olson’s hit television show, “Sugar,” I decided to supplement my Bachelor of Commerce with a Pastry Arts Diploma. I know, polar opposites! But I was lacking motivation in my 9-5 job and decided that pursuing outside interests would be a great way to reinstate passion in my life. When I read in a local newspaper that Anna had opened an artisanal boutique in St. Catharines, Ontario, I was one of the first to visit her in-store and purchase a signed copy of her newest cookbook.
Last month, all three of my worlds collided in the most delicious way.
It’s been some time since my mom has baked a carrot cake now that it’s just her and my dad living in my childhood home, she doesn’t have what Anna calls “a cake audience.” The recipe felt lost to me; I wanted to somehow connect good food with good memories, and with my mom’s 75th birthday just around the corner, it felt like the perfect time for a LG Kitchen Memory Rescue. With this milestone birthday on the horizon, I wanted to do something special for my mom, and with that I learned to recreate her carrot cake so I can bake her something delicious for her birthday.
In partnership with LG Canada, I spent a very special afternoon with Victoria alongside Chef Anna Olson recreating my mom’s carrot cake recipe, and Anna’s even made a few tweaks and added touches to make it even more special. She incorporated many of the ingredients essential to a good carrot cake but also provided a few tasty updates, such as substituting white sugar for pure maple syrup. Victoria, my carrot cake partner-in-taste, was on hand to help with the step-by-step instructions doled out by Anna herself. Yep, she put us to work! And let me tell you, having Anna watch us in the kitchen was a special kind of nerve-wracking!
By the end, Victoria and I had successfully assembled, baked and frosted a two-layer carrot cake that tasted just as good – if not better – than what I remember my mom’s to be. (Shh! Don’t tell her!) It brought back so many fond memories: enjoying a slice in my mom’s kitchen after class, going out for coffee and cake with Victoria years ago and craving the cake during my first pregnancy. Having an updated version of the recipe is something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life! The best part is that I can now create new memories in the kitchen with this new and improved recipe. I can’t wait to whip this up for my mom’s upcoming birthday!
Here’s what I learned from my time in the kitchen with Anna:
1. Kitchen memories are valuable. Today, it’s almost too convenient to simply grab takeout or order from a food delivery service (I call it “dial-a-dinner”), but the simple, good food we grew up with will always be better for us, in both mind and body. In fact, a recent LG Canada survey found that 77% of Canadians are worried they are missing out on valuable family memories by not cooking and eating together. Reconnecting with food, friends and family in the kitchen is a necessary antidote in our distracted, busy lives and offers the chance to create new memories that can be relived for generations to come.
2. Bake like a Pro. The LG ProBake Convection™ oven delivers precise, even heat on every rack, every time. For our two-layer cake, it meant that the contents of each 8-inch round pan were perfectly browned and evenly cooked with no dark sides or spots. Inspired by commercial oven technology, LG ProBake Convection ovens feature a fan to circulate heat. The heating element located at the back of the oven instead of the bottom, resulting in an even bake.
I can enthusiastically attest that the moist, fluffy cake was so evenly baked that we didn’t have to level before stacking and frosting.
When it’s time to clean up, LG EasyClean™ brings you their fastest oven-cleaning feature yet; simply spray the oven interior with water, press EasyClean and 10 minutes later, wipe away leftover grime. (There’s also a traditional self-clean cycle for an occasional deep clean.) After all, less time cleaning = more time making memories.
3. The appliances make all the difference. LG Canada found that more than 40% of Canadians would be inspired to cook at home if their appliances made it easier and faster to cook. I can attest to that, cooking in the LG Kitchen was a breeze!
The LG InstaView Door-in-Door® fridge made grabbing ingredients quick and easy as we could just double-tap the tinted glass panel to see what was inside and the ColdSaver™ access door enabled us to grab and go without letting cold air out.
With baking, the worst part for me is the clean up! But it was simple and quick thanks to the LG QuadWash® dishwasher – with its four spray arms, it was able to clean our batter crusted bowls and baking utensils thoroughly. And my favourite feature is its TrueSteam™ technology, which eliminates the need to pre-wash.
4. Sharing is caring. For her upcoming birthday, it’s my pleasure to bake this carrot cake for my mom – I hope she’ll love it as much as I do! And I wanted to share the recipe with you so you can make memories of your own in the kitchen.
¾ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 cups coarsely grated carrots
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp fine salt
1 398 mL tin crushed pineapple, well-drained
1 cup walnut pieces or raisins (optional)
1 recipe cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
1. Preheat your LG ProBake Convection™ oven to 325 °F (160 °C). Grease two 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
2. Whisk the oil, brown sugar and maple syrup by hand until well combined. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then whisk in the carrots.
3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt and add this all at once to the batter, whisking until smooth. Stir in the crushed pineapple, followed by the walnut pieces or raisins, if using. Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for about 50 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of a cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes, in their tins on a cooling rack for 30 minutes, then tip the cakes out onto the rack to cool completely before frosting.
4. Slice each of the cooled cakes in half horizontally. Place the first layer on a platter or cake stand and spread the top with frosting. Top this with the next cake layer and frost the top followed by the sides. Decorate as you wish, but for a simple look, use an offset spatula and gently set the tip at the base of the cake and spiral it up the sides of the cake as you rotate the cake, and do the same for the top, working from the outside edge to the centre. Chill the cake uncovered, until ready to serve. The FreshAir Filter of the LG InstaView Door-in-Door® fridge means that your cake won’t pick up other fridge odours as it chills.
The cake will keep, refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Make enough frosting to fill, cover and decorate an 8-inch (20 cm) or 9-inch (23 cm) cake.
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ pkg cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
Using electric beaters or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until fluffy, then beat in the cream cheese until well blended and smooth. Add the icing sugar in 2 additions, beating first on low speed and then increasing to medium high, scraping the bowl a few times and beating until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and then use immediately.
If making ahead, cover and chill the frosting, but then let it soften for 30 minutes on the counter before re-whipping to make it smooth and spreadable.
Here are some tips from Chef Anna Olson!
– The LG ProBake Convection oven circulates heat from the back of the oven, so that delicate cakes bake evenly and quickly on any rack; this means the pans do not need to be rotated during baking.
– Drain your crushed pineapple well before adding to the batter, so that the batter doesn’t become too heavy. Adding walnuts or raisins is optional and leaving them out won’t change the texture of your cake.
– Once your cake is cut, you need to just cover the exposed cake with parchment or plastic to keep it from drying out, and the LG Smart Cooling+Plus feature will keep that cake fresh for days.
– This cake recipe can also be baked into 12 cupcakes – just reduce the bake time to about 35 minutes.
– Baking a cake can result in a pile of dishes, especially goopy mixing bowls. The LG dishwashers with QuadWash® and TrueSteam® ensure that dishes come out clean and spotless, so you can spend more of your time making your cake and eating it, too.
Now that I’ve shared my beloved recipe, I want to see yours! Do you have a recipe that’s meaningful to you? Upload a photo on social and tag it with #LGKitchenMemoryRescue. I’m always looking for new ideas and I know Anna would love to see your treasured family recipes.
Don’t forget to visit the LG Kitchen Memory Rescue website to discover new recipes and stories, featuring Cornbread Jalapeno Muffins and Chili Sauce and Roasted Cauliflower.
Special thanks to LG Canada and the wonderful Chef Anna Olson for helping me to reconnect with this delicious part of my youth, and showing me that good recipes and good memories go hand-in-hand.
This post is sponsored by LG Canada. The opinions on this blog, as always, are my own.