Family Recipes

I’ve come to believe that there is a dissent over the handed-down family recipe almost equal to the dissent over Wills and estates.

I’m baking a carrot cake this morning in celebration of the move of my sister and her husband from Stony Plain to Cochrane. They will be close to their grandchildren with this move and I am will be so pleased to have my big sister closer to hand as well.

My Granny Harke was famous for her carrot cake and some of the members of the family put together a cookbook of family recipes a number of years ago that has no less than three recipes for Granny’s/Mom’s/Lydia Harke’s carrot cake. And as I’m sure you can guess, each one is a slightly different version. Which one to use?

Now if this were my maternal granny, she would just laugh and say, any one of them will be good. Use any of them, but in fact my Oma Wolff was not a baker of North American pastries. Her fame was in kuchens and breads and a wide repertoire of recipes that called for plums and recipes that involved a lot of butter.

Granny Harke, on the other hand, was a stern woman and she would put her hands on her hips and says Ach ja! nobody knew the right one. And I believe she would have stood beside me and given me instructions all the way. So the best I can do? Chose the simplest, and know that it will turn out well.

And because, to my amusement, the most hits I get on my webpage are from people searching for a recipe for a flapper pie (which I did post a while back) here’s my Granny Harke’s Carrot Cake recipe with modifications of my own.

Lydia Harke’s Carrot Cake

Boil together for 15 minutes:

2 /12 cups of grated carrots (about three large carrots)

1 ½ cup of white sugar

1 ½ cup raisins (I’ve always left them out because I have a son who loathes raisins)

2 cups water

1 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves

Let cool, then add:

2 tbsp butter

1 ½ cups walnuts (I use pecans but only if there’s no one at the table with nut allergies)

pinch of salt

2 ½ cups flour

2 tsp. soda

1 tsp vanilla (again, an addition of my own)

Grease or line with parchment a 9x 12 pan. Pour in batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes

Now, there was no cream cheese icing in Granny’s repertoire, but if your own vision of carrot cake is not complete without it t, I leave it to you to find your own recipe for that topping.


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