Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cake Day: Sam's Famous Carrot Cake

Yesterday was cake day. And, in many ways, it felt like a good day for cake, especially a cake infused with lots of cinnamon and a little nutmeg. The air outside was blowing, spreading the soft sound of rustling leaves just waiting to change color before they float to the ground blanketing the earth in a sea of browns, oranges and yellow hues. As the day wore on the sky became ominous and gray. Soon rain followed. The whole day just whispered "fall." It started out bright and cloudless and ended in a soggy drizzle. What could be more fall than that?
And so I decided that it was a good day to bake a classic cake that embraces the scents of fall and the colors of leaves. Carrot Cake. And not just any Carrot Cake but "Sam's Famous Carrot Cake."
I found the recipe for this famed cake on, you guessed it, All Recipes. It is my favorite baking source. Not only does it provide a recipe, it gives bakers reviews.
As much as I value the reviews I must admit they can be the most frustrating aspect of All Recipes. Do these reviewers actually use the recipe listed on the webpage? Very few, I suspect, do. Every comment comes with its own unique list of changes, substitutions and alterations made to the original recipe. By the time the commenter has finished their review the recipe is something completely different. Sometimes I wonder if they even ended up with a cake at all! Oil becomes applesauce. Cinnamon meets nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Sugar becomes honey. Regular flour gets exchanged for whole wheat. Buttermilk is nixed for skim instead. You name it, someone has substituted it.
The reviewers might like their particular culinary cake creation but it certainly isn't Sam's, that's for sure.
After doing my routine read through of the reviews I decided that I wanted to remain fundamentally true to Sam's recipe. I will admit to not including raisins in the cake and replacing the walnuts with pecans (I was out of the former). At the suggestion of many reviewers I added a 1/4 tsp of nutmeg to the mix, too. What can I say? I'm a guilty recipe tweaker myself. I just don't talk about it in comment sections!
When it was all said and done my cake was a success. Sam didn't let me down. And I suppose you could say the reviewers didn't let me down, either. Their 1,665 reviews deeming this a 5 star recipe guided me to this cake, putting it high on the list of results for carrot cakes on a Google search. So thank you All Recipes and its reviewers. Once again you came through on pointing me in the direction of a home run of a dessert.

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