The best-kept secret on Grosse Ile was Island Coney owner Valerie Gergely’s Carrot Cake recipe — until she shared it with Culinary Capers.
Valerie, who bought the eatery from her father, Bill Bernardara, in 2008, said she has been baking since she was a child and makes 90 percent of the desserts served at Island Coney, including all the cakes and cookies, plus scones.
“The best part of being the owner-baker is not having to wash the dishes and clean up,” she said.
Server Grace McGrath said the most popular dessert at Island Coney is Valerie’s Carrot Cake, which disappears in minutes when diners see it on the counter.
Other favorite cakes are Hummingbird, Lemon-Blueberry, Strawberry and Chocolate, and the most popular cookies are Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chip.
Don’t let the number of ingredients deter you from baking the Coney Carrot Cake, as it is very easy to put together. When I made the cake, I lined my 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper to make removal easier. And don’t even think about using smaller cake pans, or the batter will surely overflow.
I watched apprehensively as the batter rose to the top of my pans, but it stayed there. Don’t worry if the cake dips a bit in the center. When I told Valerie mine did, she said hers always does, too. And don’t spread too much frosting between the layers (1/4 of the frosting should be about right) or there may not be enough left for the top and sides.
ISLAND CONEY CARROT CAKE
- 3 large carrots shredded to make 1-1/2 cups
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 2/3 cup raisins
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grate carrots and set aside. Butter and flour 2 9-inch cake pans. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. With electric mixer, beat together sugar, oil and eggs, then beat in flour mixture until combined. Stir in carrots, pineapple, coconut, walnuts and raisins. Pour into pans and bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 stick butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Beat well the cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Add sugar and beat until smooth. Spread about 1/4 of the frosting between the layers and the remainder on top and sides of the cake.
One of my favorite recipes is for Cucumber Blueberry Salad, which Kathy Levillier of Hickory Island shared in 2017 after she bought the salad at a New York City market and analyzed it.
With blueberries currently in abundance, I’m republishing the recipe for the enjoyment of readers of the Riverview Register, Wyandotte Warrior and Southgate Star, which were not members of the GoBig Multi-Media family in 2017. And also for Grosse Ile Grand readers who might have missed it.
COPYCAT CUCUMBER BLUEBERRY SALAD
- 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops
- 1/3 cup olive or cooking oil
- 2-1/2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey or sugar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine cucumber, blueberries, feta cheese, mint and onion tops. Mix oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper and add to cucumber mixture. Chill and enjoy.
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