Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easy (and yummy) carrot cake!

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I promise you that not only will you find this cake easy to make but also absolutely delicious! Yummy, yummy and yummy! My husband is not too fond of sweet stuff but even he loved this one! I’ve made this twice now and it turned out equally delicious both the times. What does it say about the recipe – foolproof! Look at the texture – so soft and just the right balance of walnuts. Oh and the frosting – is the icing on the cake (pun intended Smile).

There are two persons that come to my mind when I make carrot cake. One is my aunt. When I came to the US, she came to visit us and she brought loads of (home made) carrot cake because she knew I loved her carrot cake. The cake was perfectly wrapped and packaged into smaller segments so that we could eat in installments and freeze the rest. Other is my brother. Because he too loved (don’t know if he still does) my aunt’s carrot cake. So I’m glad I can make a decent carrot cake now Smile

The recipe is from King Arthur flour. As most of my baking recipes are.



  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (I did not have this at home)
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 cups finely grated carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts


  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • one 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla OR 1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups glazing sugar or confectioners' sugar


  1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9" x 13" pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.
  2. Beat together the oil, sugar, salt, eggs, and spices. Mix the flour with the baking soda, and stir in. Add the carrots and nuts, and mix until just blended. Pour into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake the cake(s) for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. It took the cake around 55 minutes in my oven to be done.
  4. Allow the cake(s) to cool completely before frosting.
  5. To make the frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the salt and vanilla. Beat in the sugar. Add a teaspoon of milk or cream if the frosting is too stiff to spread; add additional sugar if it's too thin.
  6. Frost the sheet cake right in the pan.
  7. If you’ve frosting leftover then jus freeze it. Next time you make this cake, take out the frosting from the freezer and keep it in the fridge a minimum of 24 hours in advance.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Checklist Manifesto

Author: Atul Gawande



After reading “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande, I was quite impressed with this author. So of course when I heard that the checklist manifesto is also written by him I was keen on reading this too. Add to that the fact that I’ve heard/read so many recommendations for this book.

As you would probably guess from the title of the book, it’s about checklists. The author argues how using checklists in various fields has significantly improved their success rates. He cites examples from the airplane industry to medicine. The reason checklists are so successful is because humans can forget things due to distractions, poor memory, complex systems, etc. By having a checklist you’re making sure that all the mandatory steps for a procedure (trivial or not) are covered. And it turns out that majority of the mistakes or mishaps happen because of some known step(s) of a protocol were missed. Knowingly or unknowingly. These can be averted by having a checklist. Complex, unique or one-of situations will not be covered by these – they will still need to be solved in a ad-hoc fashion. Going through a checklist also facilitates communication between the members of a team. This way everybody knows what is the problem they’re working on, the risks involved, the mitigations they should be ready for and so on. The author also suggests how to create such checklists. In fact at the end he has a checklist for creating a checklist.

Being a believer of checklists, I couldn’t agree more with him. Although I will admit I didn’t realize what a significant impact they could have. I’d only used them in the context of my household. Who knew that doctors and nurses in hospitals had saved lives by using checklists! At some point I did feel that the author was belaboring the issue. I mean how long can you read an argument on checklists or examples to prove the same. The good thing is that the book is no that thick. Overall liked the book though I do think it could be thinner.