By Sandi Moynihan
If you’re looking for a light homemade dessert to serve at a holiday meal this winter, look no further than this citrus carrot cake recipe by Academy Award-winning actress Julie Andrews from the 1992 USO Celebrity Cookbook.
Andrews has had several connections to USO centers and programs over the years.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Disney, which created the 1964 Andrews-driven classic “Mary Poppins,” hosted a series of thank you performances for service members assisting with the clean-up effort near New York City. Thanks to Disney, over 500 servicemen and women enjoyed a free Broadway performance either that show, “Newsies” or “The Lion King.” Although the Hurricane Sandy cleanup effort is over, troops living near or visiting New York can always contact the USO of Metropolitan New York to inquire about tickets to several Broadway performances, including “Mary Poppins”.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, service members stationed near USO Kaiserslautern in Germany can pack a few of their favorite things and head on a special spring break overnight tour of several filming locations from Andrews’ “The Sound of Music.” Tour stops include the Von Trapp movie home, Maria and Captain Von Trapp’s wedding church at Mondsee and more.
And if you can’t make it to those experiences, you can always whip up Julie Andrews’ carrot cake while watching a recording of NBC’s 2013 “The Sound of Music Live!” special, featuring USO tour veteran Carrie Underwood. Underwood, who played Maria in the live special, traveled overseas with the USO to entertain troops during the 2006 holiday season.
This recipe, though elegant, is easy to make and comes together in just few hours. From start to finish, the cake and frosting took us about three hours to make and made our kitchen smell amazing. Plus, we found all the ingredients not already in our pantry at the grocery store for less than $15. Considering a pre-ordered cake from your average bakery costs around $20, this dessert is a great option for a family on a budget.
While the cake part of the recipe is straightforward, the tofu-based frosting might seem a little intimating to the basic home cook. Our advice? Don’t be intimated. This was the first time we made a tofu-based frosting, too, and it turned out great. We used extra-firm tofu, but later discovered silken tofu would have worked as well.
One thing to note: tofu frosting cracks when you put it in the fridge, so this cake is best stored at room temperature.
With all that in mind, happy cooking!
Julie Andrews’ Carrot Cake
Adapted from the USO of Pioneer Valley Celebrity Cookbook.
For the cakes
- 1 + ¾ cups pastry flour
- 2 + ¼ ounces corn meal
- 1 + ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 + ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded carrots
1 + ¼ cups water
2 cups golden carrots
½ cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Grease two 9-inch round pans. Pour half of the batter into each pan. Bake for 25 minutes. While cakes cool, make frosting.
For the frosting
- 1 lb. + 2 ounces tofu (we used extra-firm tofu)
- 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ¼ teaspoon orange extract
- ¼ cup shredded coconut, toasted (plus extra for topping cake)
In a food processor, mixmaster or large bowl with hand mixer, combine all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Place half of frosting on top of bottom cake. Do not frost the sides. Place the second cake on top. Frost with the remaining icing. Sprinkle remaining toasted coconut on top. Enjoy!