Truth be told, I read this book a lot more than I cook from it. It's quite entertaining on its own. Who wouldn't want to read about Katharine Hepburn's brownies? Or Sylvia's ribs (that's Sylvia as in the legendary eponymous restaurant in Harlem)? Or Eli Zabar's bread?
But there's one recipe I go back to again and again, and it's one of the book's most unusual entries. George Washington's tea cake, says the introduction, "was served on the occasion of British Evacuation Day on November 25, 1783, at the Fraunces Tavern, in what now is the South Street Seaport area." Washington was there, and thus the cake got his name.
I do like it for its heritage, but I also just plain like it. It's a very light cake, with a delicate crumb and none of the health-food overtones one usually associates with carrot cake. In fact, were it not for the orange speckles, you probably wouldn't be able to guess what's in it.
George Washington's carrot tea cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups grated carrots
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, combine the oil, sugar, eggs and carrots, and mix well. Add the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in the pan 2 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a rack to finish cooling.