Monday, October 25, 2010

Double-blind carrot cake

I generally take everything Deb over at Smitten Kitchen says as gospel. She's never led me astray, and she seems to test out her recipes pretty thoroughly, so I take any steps she suggests in order to achieve cooking nirvana. However, when The Hubs requested carrot cake for his birthday, a line in her recipe for Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting gave me pause: she instructed me to grate my carrots by hand to give me smaller carrot pieces, yielding a softer cake. Now, I *really* do not like grating things by hand, but if it's gotta be done for perfect cake, I'll do it. BUT, I'm *not* hand-grating my carrots for my carrot cake for the rest of my life unless I really, reeeeeally have to. So, an experiment was in order! (Yay!)

A cake with hand-grated carrots compared to one grated in the food processor, controlling for all other variables:

I weighed out my carrots into two equal piles. (note the baby carrot broken in half to make them perfectly even :) )

Grated everybody up. I will never. EVER. hand-grate a baby carrot again. People, this is serious sacrifice for science! I made the batter and then divided it up evenly before adding the carrot. I opted to withhold the optional nuts and raisins, as that would make it harder to tell the texture of the cake. I toasted up some pecans to put on top instead.

Two identical cakes with the labels folded in so I can't tell which is which. (This sort of got to a point where I figured, Hey, I'm this far, might as well use my 7th-grade knowledge of the scientific process, eh? It was a bit of a slippery slope of OCD-ness.)

Each tester (The Hubs and my parents) got a slice of A and B and were asked to try a bite of cake-only before they dug in to the maple-cream-cheese-pecan goodness and to rate the texture. I considered making ballots but the cake smelled too darn good to wait any longer. Plus, *that* would make this nerdy.

The verdict: we mostly couldn't tell the difference, which is a good thing because it means I get to use my food processor in the future. My mom was the only one that noticed, and she liked the one with the bigger chunks, the machine-grated option, because the other was too homogeneous, or, as she put it, "this one has carrot in it, the other is just bland and pasty." I said "um, wow." and she quickly added, "I just mean in comparison with the other one, of course." Of course.

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