Food

Make Cake, Send Relief

carrot cake with labneh frosting

Scrolling through my photo library has become an exercise in emotional torture…

How did I not know how good I had it when I was watching my daughter’s soccer game, visiting a friend in Seattle, working side-by-side with my Cup of Jo team, having a Friday night Negroni on the garden patio of my favorite neighborhood restaurant followed by a perfect bowl of ricotta gnocchi? It’s the last one that hurts the most. I know I’ll see my friends, watch another game, but restaurants? As we all know, their future, and the future of nearly 16 million out-of-work American restaurant workers, is catastrophically uncertain.

Like a lot of people, I’ve been donating to my locally-based relief funds where I can (when I’m not scrolling through my restaurant photos in a state I can only describe as “emotional lockdown”), so I was thrilled to hear about Family Meal, a digital-only instant cookbook that features favorite recipes from our favorite famous food people. All proceeds — as in 100% — go directly towards the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation Covid Crisis Relief Fund. For six bucks, you’ll get access to recipes like Samin Nosrat’s Ligurian Focaccia, Eric Ripert’s Mushroom Bolognese, Bryant Terry’s Vegan Farm Box and Pantry Stir-Fry, Alison Roman’s “Perfect Breakfast” (aren’t you curious?), and, yes, the Adeena Sussman’s Carrot Snacking Cake with Labneh Frosting that you’re probably drooling over already. It’s extremely moist and the tahini adds a beautiful little twist. I mean come on, how good does that look? Especially knowing that by making this (and the others) you’ve given a little back.

carrot cake with labneh frosting

Adeena Sussman’s Carrot Snacking Cake with Labneh Frosting

From Tel Aviv-based Adeena: A small amount of tahini adds the tiniest bit of nuttiness to this cake, without a really discernible sesame flavor. The labneh frosting is a Middle East–meets–Midwest kind of a thing, indicative of my American-Israeli cooking style.

This makes one 9-by-9-inch cake.

Cake

1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the pan
1 large egg
1 tablespoon tahini
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large carrot, grated (about 1 cup)

Frosting

1 cup labneh (or full-fat Greek yogurt)
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
Dash of salt

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-9-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, vegetable oil, egg, tahini, and vanilla extract.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then stir in the sugar, coconut, and cinnamon. Gently whisk the wet ingredients into the dry, then stir in the grated carrot.

Bake until the cake springs back when pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: Whisk together the labneh, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. When the cake has cooled, drizzle the glaze over top and serve.

Family Meal (Apple Books, Barnes & Noble) is a digital-only cookbook published by Penguin Random House. One hundred percent of proceeds go towards the RWCF COVID-19 Crisis Relief Fund. You can also donate to the fund directly. Thank you!

P.S. A cinnamon donut snacking cake and reader comments on kindness.

(Photos by snack cake master Yossy Arefi for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Elizabeth says...

    I made this with my 5 year old son last night. It was delicious, but I figured it would be soggy on day 2 because of the glaze. I’m happy to report that it kept well in the fridge overnight and made a delicious morning snack.

  2. Angela says...

    What a gorgeous idea, Jenny. I love the meaning behind it too. So cheap for what it offers, so I’m gifting it many times over. Sharing with my beloveds, my bestest college girlfriends on our first mother’s day when we are all (almost, nearly) mothers together for the first time. Celebrating a new milestone together, but apart. Inscribing my “book” with the following- “Happy Mother’s Day, my love. I know this quarantine crap sucks, but it’s been life-affirming to know we’ve still got each other. Let’s cook something beautiful together and make a wish that only the best of before is what returns to us in the after. I love you!”

  3. Tiffany Kinnaird says...

    Carrot or Coconut? I am thinking coconut, but you mention both….either way, the cake looks yummy.

  4. rachel says...

    18 wks. pregnant and happily eating my way through this weird season of life we are all in, will be making this tomorrow for my family and I to enjoy! thanks! <3

  5. Tricia M says...

    Would love to be able to make this but flour, of any description, has limited availability here in the UK. Seemingly the flour millers can’t produce it fast enough and it just flies off the shelves as everyone is baking here! So, I’ll just have to enjoy a ” virtual” slice of that yummy looking cake. Stay well everyone!

    • Kathryn says...

      Flour is hard to find in Calgary, Canada too, as is yeast. The yeast shortage has caused a renewed interest in sourdough bread. Apparently everyone is taking advantage of this time at home to bake. I am appreciating the return of domestic skills—sewing masks, growing from seeds, finding time for hands-on homemaking.

  6. Sarah says...

    Thoughts on whether this could be made as a loaf? Or in mini loaf pans? My (teeny) kitchen actually doesn’t have a baking dish (gasp!), and now isn’t the right time to buy. Thanks for highlighting the important plight of our food service workers.

    • Robin says...

      Or muffins? I can imagine these would make lovely ones …

  7. cia says...

    Yum! I’m looking forward to this book arriving at my home!

    Could you sub cream cheese for the yogurt?

  8. AMK says...

    What a deal and ahh what a great cause! Just purchased. Thank you for letting us know!

  9. Nicole says...

    Thank you so much for posting about this. Buying it now!

  10. Meg says...

    I saw this, it looked delicious, we had the ingredients, so I made it. Outstanding. Made the cake, purchased the cookbook – win win. Thanks CoJ.

  11. Kristin says...

    My daughters and I just made this cake to have with afternoon tea on this rainy Wednesday– and it is completely amazing, a total winner! Many thanks for the recipe. I’m off to purchase the cookbook now!

  12. jeannie says...

    First of all, the picture of that cake is making my mouth water. It looks so delicious! And I feel that same achy nostalgia thinking of my children and grandchildren visiting, having friends to dinner or going to play tennis. I so long for those beautiful ordinary times to come back again. Love this cookbook recommendation and can’t wait to try the recipes! Thank you, Jenny.

  13. Ann says...

    I’m only missing 2 ingredients! The yogurt and coconut! Looks so yummy!

    • Meg says...

      I made it without the coconut and it was still fantastic (I did add a little extra carrot). Also, the cake is so good by itself you don’t even need the glaze. I say go for it!

    • Jeanne says...

      Sour cream or buttermilk can replace yogurt

  14. Laura says...

    Bought my copy! For less than a newsstand magazine, packed with recipes from chefs we love, and an important cause… done deal. Thanks for spreading the good word.
    I’m off to make Dominique Crenn’s crepe crackers!

  15. Hannah says...

    I just bought the book and made Deb Perelman’s stovetop mac and cheese for lunch while working from home. So delicious!!! Thanks for recommending the book, it’s nice to know it’s helping a good cause.

  16. Sam says...

    Will definitely buy the recipe collection!

    I’ll also say that… for the sake of everyone whose livelihoods and dreams depend on a robust restaurant industry, I hope things can return to normal as soon as possible. That being said, this is the first time in my life that I can eat “out” once a week or more since restaurants are selling such (relative to their in-store prices) affordable take-out. I’ve been blown away at the creativity and resilience that many restaurants have shown as they’ve adapted their menus, and I’m so grateful for the chance to enjoy the talents of those who prepare the food! (Just trying to look for silver linings where I can…)

  17. Awads says...

    I purchased it and can’t wait to read (and make) all these recipes! Just need my son to give me back my Kindle!

    Thanks for helping us help others, Jenny!

  18. cmr says...

    where are the cute plates from?

  19. NSH says...

    Labneh, zaatar, tahini…Why the complete erasure of Palestinian identity in the discussion of these ingredients? The term Middle Eastern is too vague- it is as much Palestinian as it is Israeli. From the perspective of a WOC that is also Palestinian it feels like this to me: It is akin to one mentioning shrimp and grits as a White southern dish from the coastal gulf of the Deep South without identifying the role of enslaved black communities in the genesis of the dish. We can do better and there are some wonderful books and research on this issue, with regard to Palestinian-Israeli cooking for those wanting to learn more:

    Lila Sharif’s research at UIUC- heard of her through something called The Refugee Studies Collective

    The Palestinian Table- my personal favorite with great commentary from Tony Bourdain

    Palestine on a Plate Cookbook

    Baladi

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/12/t-magazine/palestinian-food.html

    At a time when Palestinian Refugees are facing cataclysmic conditions during this pandemic and during Ramadan when many are fasting anyways, it seems important to identify their humanity in the food you are celebrating here.

    • mary says...

      excellent post and thank you for saying it. i expect you’ll get plenty of pushback but you’re 10000% correct.

    • AK says...

      NSH, I am right there with you and could not agree more. And there are some excellent Palestinian cookbooks out there (Zaitoun, and yes! The Palestinian Table, forthcoming Falastin) and also make sure to check out Chef Fadi Kattan’s podcast, Sabah al Yasmine, on every day — I had a chance to stay at his Hosh Al-Syrian hotel in Bethlehem and it’s the best breakfast I’ve ever had, and he’s got some great commentary, recipes, and guests.

    • Kat says...

      Yes yes yes!! Thank you for sharing.

    • Alyssa says...

      NSH I couldn’t agree more! Thank you for sharing and for elevating Palestinian research and cookbooks.

    • Tea says...

      YES thank you, I am an Iraqi Jew with Israeli citizenship. When I read things like this all I can think about is the Israeli erasure of Palestinian culture & history; the dispossession of Palestinian people and the ongoing refugee crisis. SO MUCH of what we call Israeli food is, in fact, Palestinian.

    • Karen says...

      What a great point <3

    • Omaya says...

      As an American with Palestinian heritage, it tirelessly pains me see these erasures of obviously present Palestinian cultural influences. It’s a simple fix to offer a nod to the roots of the Palestinian ingredients included in this American-Israeli concocted dessert. Please consider this. It’s important.

      Thank you, NSH, for compiling these resources.

    • Raquel says...

      From a fellow WOC and Arab sista, THANK YOU for saying this. This makes me so so sad and it’s so revolting. I gave up on making the cake after I finished reading the description.
      Another good book it’s Jerusalem by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi. Let’s celebrate our diversity rather than culturally appropriate one in dismiss of the other.

    • Christina says...

      As a white woman, THANK YOU for saying this. I’m more enlightened thanks to your comment and the links others provided. I appreciate you taking the time to educate.

  20. Elspeth says...

    As someone whose husband is a restaurant manager with tough decisions to make right now, we SO appreciate this!

    Also, if you are able to get cerbside pick up/takeout where you live right now PLEASE be nice to the staff…they are anxious and afraid now too! Their world is fragile too.

  21. nadine says...

    Just bought it for my Kobo. Thank you for sharing!!
    And I’ll try to make this cake tonight.

  22. LS says...

    I’m extremely happy (but not at all surprised) to see the CoJ team leveraging their platform in this way. Just another reminder of why I love this little corner of the internet so much.

  23. KimW says...

    I preordered this Monday & have only had time for a quick flip through. Can’t wait to do a deep dive into it soon. Wonderful idea for a great cause during a globally awful time….

  24. Katie says...

    Just purchased this book – thank you so much for sharing! I needed some kitchen inspiration, and am so happy to know this project exists.

  25. Denise says...

    I’m buying it right now. Thank you for writing about this!

  26. Jane says...

    Sold. The price is RIGHT (they should’ve charged more!) and the recipes look sooo good!

  27. Meghan says...

    Jenny,
    It’s been so nice getting to know you through COJ. I must be the last person on the internet to have learned of your wit and recipes. :) So far, I have made your shakshuka, double chocolate banana loaf, kale salad, carrot and white bean burgers and making your tortilla de patatas this evening for dinner. Thanks for the dependably delicious recipes! Thanks for the introduction COJ! Great cause you are promoting in this post.
    Meghan

  28. Liz says...

    This looks delicious & I love this cookbook idea! I’ve started baking for hospital workers here in France with community-based organization @vosgateaux (on Instagram for the curious) – maybe I’ll make this cake for our next delivery!

  29. Annie says...

    Jenny + CoJ — Thank you so much for using this platform to send light into the world right now and help those who are struggling most. I’m tearing up a little reading this post, thinking about what the world will look like when we (privileged, sheltering me) emerge from our homes, but my tears are falling into Marcella’s bolognese on the stove. Thanks for the inspiration to cook good food, and more, lift others up.

  30. Sarah says...

    Sold! For $6, this is a no-brainer for me. :)