Lisa Cifelli, co-founder of The Daring Kitchen [originally The Daring Bakers] passed away unexpectedly this November. Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing Lis, understands how much she will be missed. Her big heart, incredible sense of humor, epic emails, and mad organization skills were legendary. I would like to thank Kelly for creating this event through which I would like to pay tribute to Lis, our Daring Bakers queen, by baking a special something in her memory. I thought it would be best to select a recipe from her own blog, La Mia Cucina, which she kept active with her witty posts till 2010.

Her “Best Ever” carrot cake was my final choice but it took me a long time to make up my mind from the list of delicious sounding desserts on her recipe index. Though I never met her personally, my first and only contact with Lis was the time when I asked to be a Daring Bakers host and she graciously replied that she could have me for the September 2014 challenge. “I’m always around if you need me for anything.. questions, help, etc.” was the closing line of that very exciting email I received some months ago.

Indeed, Lis has always been there to introduce us to our monthly challenges, to answer our queries and to ensure the smooth running of our baking community. Her sudden departure will leave a huge void in our midst and she will be sorely missed by all of us who saw in her a talented baker, a genuine friend and a warm and caring human being. My sincere condolences go to her family and loved ones and may she rest in peace forever.

LIS’S BEST CARROT CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Carrot Cake

6 cups grated carrots

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup raisins, soaked

4 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp table salt

4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup chopped walnuts

For the Frosting

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  • In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes, then stir in raisins.
  • Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease and flour two 10-inch cake pans. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light.

  • Gradually beat in white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in pineapple. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  • Stir into the wet mixture until absorbed. Finally stir in the carrot mixture and walnuts. Pour into prepared pans.

  • Bake the cakes for 45 to 50 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean from the centre of the cakes.
  • Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. When completely cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting.

  • For the cream cheese frosting, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy in a medium bowl.
  • Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioner’s sugar. Sandwich the cakes together with frosting.

  • Spread the remaining cream cheese frosting over the sandwiched cakes and smooth out with an offset spatula.
  • Decorate the frosted cake with chopped nuts or carrot shaped candy if desired. Makes 10-12 generous servings.

Rest in Peace, Lis

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