Last week was a lot of fun. We hold at least two themed dinners a week at the cafeteria. Here we have Root Beer Cake for root beer float night, a vegan Pumpkin Cake and Carrot Cake both for World Vegetarian Day.
The root beer cake was way too sweet for me, but it was a big hit with those who love to overdose on sugar. I modified this recipe a little bit, using only the cake, and I made a thick buttercream which I thinned with root beer.
The pumpkin cake came from Sinfully Vegan's P is for Pumpkin Cake!. I cannot believe how great this turned out. It is super moist and not gummy like some vegan items can be. You could easily add in nuts or raisins, top with a streusel, and use it for a coffee cake or muffins. The best part is that you don't have to buy super expensive ingredients you cannot pronounce.
Carrot cake is something I am never done with. However, I am satisfied with this version, as is everyone down at TSU. The football team even got into it. My recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens; I just swap in crushed pineapple for the oil. It keeps it super moist. I actually think my BHG cookbook is outdated; I can't find the correct recipe, so here ya go! I make this one by hand, so if you use a mixer, whisk on low or use a paddle. The batter is rather thin, so use your best judgment.
1. Whisk together 2 cups sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 4 large eggs, 3 cups finely shredded carrots, and 3/4 cup crushed pineapple.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together 2 cups AP flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon (or more if you like!), and 1/2 tsp baking soda.
3. Whisk and fold dries into wets until smooth. Bake 350 for about 25 minutes. Use the spring back test. This batch will make one layered 9" cake. Feel free to add coconut, nuts, dried fruits. I've seen it all but like to keep it simple. I frost with a cream cheese buttercream and press chopped and toasted pecans onto the sides.
I also made popcorn balls for Popcorn Night. It was my first time, and I thought they turned out great. They were not a big hit at the cafe, but I consider it a personal success. If I get another chance, I'll do a Poppycock/Cracker Jack/Fiddle Faddle type of mix. Caramel can be very intimidating. Thanks to my time with Provence Breads and Cafe, I feel comfortable with making my own. Plus, it's just sugar and water. You won't be losing a lot if you burn it. To jazz these up, I drizzled dark and white chocolate ganache, but you could also dip in one of these or a smooth caramel or peanut sauce and roll it in sprinkles, nuts, candy bits, etc. Any of those could go in with the popcorn in addition to dried fruit, chocolate chunks, cookie chunks, etc.