Saturday, June 7, 2014

Olga Rumen’s Carrot Cake

Let me tell you a little something about Olga Rumen. Much of Olga’s cooking fame rides on her Carrot Cake and Carrot Muffins. It wasnt always so. Her Citrus-Nut Soufflé with Hot Chocolate Sauce once won her a trip to Florida - but alas! The recipe is AWOL and Olga cant find it.

If Olgas name sounds familiar, it was she who invented the excellent Beer-Cheese Soup I published March 22, 2014. For a faster way to find it, check the Index under Soups: Beer-Cheese.  

Trained as a dietitian, Olga Rumen spent 50 years in the food industry, principally as a dietitian and food services manager at the University of British Columbia. Olga retired in 1999, but the recipes she developed remain timeless. She still has the ability to flick her eyes over any recipe, knowing immediately if it will work.” And she still has the ability to convert a standard recipe into one that serves 500. Just ask any student whos chowed down on one of her Carrot Muffins at UBC. 

Olga Rumen

I’m a Carrot Cake fan, and understand that there are many different recipes and many variations on a theme. A few years ago, a popular Canadian magazine voted one particular recipe Canada’s Best Carrot Cake.” I’m not about to reprint it here, but Carrot Cake aficionados will find it on the magazine’s website at: 

If you love Carrot Cake, also see the recipe I published Dec. 16, 2013. It’s a keeper, too! 

When Olga Rumen and I recently had lunch, we talked about these and other Carrot CakesWhen Olga talks Carrot Cake, she talks Carrot Cake (!), so I came away from lunch with three excellent recipes for same, two of which I’ll save for another day and one of which I’ll share with you today. Olga and I disagree on a couple of things - one being that I prefer pecans in my Carrot Cake while Olga uses walnuts; the other being that I’m partial to raisins while Olga likes dates.

We do agree that a quality Carrot Cake needs a quality Cream Cheese Frosting. Bakers who skimp on the cream cheese do no one any favors: The results are invariably mediocre. Check this blog’s Index under Frosting for several great ones made with cream cheese; I know Olga would approve. 

So here’s Olga Rumen’s flagship recipe for Carrot Cake. Her recipe for Carrot Muffins appears below. Each is essentially the same, but with slightly different proportions and a slightly different mixing method. Olga’s muffin recipe also omits the nuts. Olga popularized both recipes in what she calls the hippie days of granola with peace signs everywhere.I love that both use whole wheat flour!

Olga Rumen’s Carrot Cake: 

4 eggs
1-1/2 c. granulated sugar
1-1/2 c. vegetable oil (I use canola - NP)
3-1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt 
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 c. crushed pineapple, well drained
2 c. grated carrots
1 c. chopped walnuts (see Note)
1 c. finely chopped dates

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Beat eggs until frothy, gradually adding sugar and oil. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Reserve and set aside 1/4 c. of combined dry ingredients, stirring remainder into egg mixture. 

In a medium bowl, mix together pineapple, carrots, walnuts (see Note), and dates, tossing gently with reserved 1/4 c. dry ingredients. Stir into egg mixture and pour into 10-in. bundt pan that has been spray-greased and floured. Bake 75 min. or until cake tests done when a skewer poked near center of cake emerges dry. 

Note: Choose shelled walnuts for their color.  Pale nuts are fresh nuts; darker nuts are stale and possibly rancid. Thats a tip from Olga!

When I Post Again Next Week: I must, must, must publish the UBC Cinnamon Bun recipe that made the Universitys kitchens famous! In my defence, I’ll say the devil made me do it. 

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