Food Exploring :: Carrot Cake with Apricot and Pineapple

Over the last few years, I’ve been on a number of adventures around the world that have opened my eyes and inspired me to think in different ways. A lot of these adventures have inspired valuable lessons that have stuck with me, and others have inspired recipes as well! That gave me the idea to start a new series, which I’m calling “Food Exploring.” Once a month, I’ll dust off one of these adventures and share what lessons and recipes that particular adventure inspired! This March, we’re exploring Norway!

Carrot cake doesn’t seem like the most Norwegian of dishes, but it’s everywhere. We noshed on some delicious carrot cake after coasting down the mountain in Geiranger in a cute little cafe there, and we saw it offered just about everywhere.

One of the shop owners in our last stop in Bergen told us that Norwegians have embraced it as a way of loading up on dessert and still staying relatively healthy. It beats out a lot of other cakes in Norway for popularity, especially when you add in lots of tasty sweet fruit.

While Norwegians may not own carrot cake, Vikings own the word cake – or, to them, kåka. Viking cake was a baked bread with added milk to make it puffy and sweetened with sugar and honey. Maybe this crossed paths with carrot pudding, which was popular in most of Europe during the middle ages, as carrots and fruit were used to sweeten bread when sugar was impossible to come by.

Just as we’re not exactly sure where carrot cake came from, we’re also not sure where my mother’s carrot cake recipe came from!

It’s something she’s made forever and her father was fond of, and since my grandfather was pretty much straight off the boat from the Swedish farm, maybe it’s a little more Scandinavian than our shop owners suggested. But that still doesn’t explain where the pineapple came from!

Either way, enjoy this extremely tasty and relatively calorie friendly dessert, and know that there are probably a lot of Norwegians enjoying similar treats with their coffee!

Carrot Cake with Pineapple and Apricot

Makes one 10×10 square two layer cake or one 9×14 sheet cake.

For the cake:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 cups fine sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cup salad oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups finely shredded carrot
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 cup smooth apricot jam

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz package cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tsp Bailey’s Irish cream
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • slivered almonds {optional} (toasted)

To make the cake:

  1. Heat your oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9″x9″ baking pans {or one 9″x13″ pan if you’re going to make a large sheet cake.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a second bowl, combine the salad oil, eggs, carrot, pineapple, and jam. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet until fully combined.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared pans and bake 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You will need closer to 45 minutes for a larger sheet cake.
  4. Let the cake cool.

To make the frosting:

  1. Soften the cream cheese. Add the melted butter and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and Bailey’s and beat until the mixture is again fluffy.
  3. Frost the cake and, if desired, sprinkle with almond slivers.

Pairing Suggestions

  • Good – Hot Coffee
  • Better – Scandinavian Coffee!

Weigh in, y’all. How do you think carrot cake started out? What do you think led someone hundreds of years ago to pull a carrot out of the ground and think, “Hey, I’m going to put this in a cake!” Or a pudding.

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