Home > Eating Food, Food Media > Dessert Recipe Roundup: Riker’s Island Carrot Cake

Dessert Recipe Roundup: Riker’s Island Carrot Cake

Prison food: Not always as bad as you might think.  Courtesy of the Times, we are pleased to share the Riker’s Island carrot cake recipe, renowned throughout the New York penal system.  Now you and other law abiding citizens can enjoy in the safety and privacy of your own home what thousands of inmates have been enjoying while incarcerated for their crimes against the state.

The Times provides an interesting glimpse into the Riker’s Island prison bakery, which is staffed by inmates, many of whom have prior experience in bakeries:

The Rikers Island bakery turns out 11,500 loaves of whole wheat bread a day to feed its 13,000 inmates.  [The inmates] bake roughly 2,500 loaves of carrot cake a year, in 25-loaf batches, which require 25 pounds of sugar, 25 pounds of prewhipped eggs and 25 pounds of shredded carrots, among other ingredients.

The carrot cake is baked for holidays, Christmas, Thanksgiving and Ramadan, and is immensely popular among the inmates as well as with correctional officers at other institutions.  However, while the Riker’s bakery supplies bread to other city jails and the Department of Juvenile Justice facilities (“Juvie”), there is no official distribution of carrot cake because there are not the facilities to bake and distribute it.  So it would seem that you have to get locked up in Rikers to sample their famous carrot cake.

However, the intrepid reporters at the Times have obtained the recipe, which I re-post below:

Rikers Island Carrot Cake

 25 pounds sugar

3 gallons vegetable oil

25 pounds flour

8 ounces salt

1 pound baking powder

8 ounces baking soda

6 ounces nutmeg

6 ounces allspice

4 ounces clove powder

4 ounces ginger

8 ounces cinnamon

25 pounds carrots

25 pounds eggs

8 pounds walnuts

20 pounds raisins

8 ounces vanilla extract

1. Place in a mixing bowl – sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove powder, allspice, baking powder, baking sods, salt. Using a paddle mix on slow for five minutes.

2. Add raisins, carrots, walnuts, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract mix on slow speed for an additional five minutes.

3. Increase speed to medium for 10 minutes.

4. Pour into loaf pans. Pans should be three-quarters full.

5. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.

Each batch makes 25 loaves of carrot cake.

*NOTE: There is no frosting.  I know that will be heresy for some (you can read the Times commenters bitching about it if you are so inclined), but I suspect frosting is a frill not deemed necessary for the purposes of prison dining, and probably ups the cost of the whole endeavor.

What’s that you say? You don’t need 25 loaves of carrot cake?  Cooking with 25 lbs. of flour, 20 lbs. of raisins and 25 lbs. of eggs too daunting for you?   Well, in the event that you are not feeding an entire prison population for Ramadan, Times commenter “Eric Berman” has kindly converted the recipe to a single loaf:

• 1 pound sugar
• 2 cups vegetable oil
• 2 cups flour
• 2 tsp salt
• generous 1½ tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp baking soda
• 1½ tsp nutmeg
• 1½ tsp allspice
• Generous ¾ tsp clove powder
• Generous ¾ tsp ginger
• 1½ tsp cinnamon
• 1 pound carrots
• 9 large eggs
• 6 oz walnuts
• 12 oz raisins
• 2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Place in a mixing bowl – sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove powder, allspice, baking powder, baking sods, salt. Using a paddle mix on slow for five minutes.
2. Add raisins, carrots, walnuts, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla extract mix on slow speed for an additional five minutes.
3. Increase speed to medium for 10 minutes.
4. Pour into loaf pans. Pans should be three-quarters full.
5. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.
Each batch makes 1 loaf of carrot cake.

A word of caution – many recipes do not mathematically decrease or increase well simply by dividing by a certain number.  If any readers actually attempt this, I would recommend scrutinizing these measurements very carefully before you begin, and making adjustments accordingly.  And, if you do attempt it, let us know how it worked out. 

Quite honestly, it would all be worth it when, as you are paid endless compliments on the delicious carrot cake you served as a finish to your dinner party, you casually say – “oh yes, its the same one they serve on Riker’s Island.”

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