Sylvia’s Carrot Cake

My friend Cathy does not care for sweets and would much rather have a salty snack.  Whenever I, or anyone else, would bring in baked goods to work for our lunch group, Cathy was rarely tempted to try any of the goodies.  So, I was more than curious when Cathy mentioned how much she really enjoyed her mother’s carrot cake.

Her mom, Sylvia, has been making this wonderful carrot cake for over 50 years; and Cathy remembers having it for breakfast occasionally when she was growing up.  After hearing Cathy talk about it, I, of course, asked her for the recipe.  It turns out her mother got it from “an Italian woman named Fran” all those years ago when they were both involved in Cub Scouts.  Talk about coming around full circle!

The cake is not overly sweet which is surprising considering the amount of sugar in the recipe along with the dates and raisins.  Cathy’s mom would sprinkle it with powdered sugar just before serving.  I am sure it would be phenomenal with a skim coat of cream cheese frosting as well although I like it just fine without it and have yet to try it that way.  I’ve made it several times now, and I find that if I add just one tablespoon more of sugar than what is specified it is absolutely perfect for me without any sprinkle of powdered sugar or frosting.  It is just fabulous with a cup of coffee or tea.

This is one of those cakes that gets moister overnight.  It’s hard to resist having a piece the day I bake it, but it is so much better the next day that I try to sit on my hands and not have some immediately.  When you look at the cake, it’s rather nondescript.  It’s a rather large brown tube cake; and, if you saw it on a dessert table with other treats, you might just pass it by.  That, my friends, would be a big mistake.  I guarantee you that once you try this carrot cake it will spoil you for any other.  It’s frantastic!

Sylvia’s Carrot Cake

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  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 2 cups sugar (add 1 to 2 tbl. additional sugar if you have a sweet tooth)
  • 1 1/2 cups oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
  • 1/2 cup raisins or currants (I like to use currants)
  • 1/2 package dates (4 oz.), cut very small into pieces about the size of a raisin


Grease and flour a 10” tube pan.

Sift dry ingredients (flour through salt) together and put aside.  Add the carrots, sugar, and oil in a large mixing bowl and blend well.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Fold in the dry ingredients, a little at a time until incorporated.  Stir in chopped nuts, raisins (or currants), and the dates.

Pour into prepared 10” tube pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tests done with a toothpick.

Fran’s Notes

The second time I made this I thought I would use all dates and eliminate the raisins.  Even though I thought I had chopped them up fairly small, they weren’t small enough.  Their weight caused them to sink to the bottom of the cake.  I went back to using both currants and the dates which I cut up very small into pieces the size of a raisin.  No more sinking!

I buy an 8-oz. package of dates and use half the package (4 oz.) for the cake.

I am quite sure this cake would freeze well although it has never lasted long enough for me to do so.

Source:   Recipe from my good friend Cathy who got it from her mom, Sylvia

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