Carrot Cake

 Butter, margarine, or oil for the pan(s)
Optional: about 1/4 cup poppy seeds
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1-3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
4 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2-1/2 cups (packed) finely shredded carrot combined with 1/4 cup lemon juice
Optional additions:
3/4 cup raisins or currants
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease 2 standard-sized loaf pans or 1 oblong pan (9×13, or 10×14). Sprinkle in the poppy seeds; tilt and shake the pan(s) to distribute the seeds. They will stick nicely.
Beat together butter or margarine and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. When the mixture is fluffy, stir in the vanilla and lemon rind.
Sift together the dry ingredients. Add this to the butter mixture alternately with the carrots, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Mix just enough after each addition to combine – don’t over mix. Stir in the optional items (or not) with the last flour addition.
Spread the batter evenly in the pan(s) and bake 40 to 50 minutes (loaf pans) or 35 minutes (oblong pan) – or until a probe inserted into the center comes out clean. For loaf pans: cool 10 minutes in the pan, then rap the pan sharply, and dislodge and remove the cake. Transfer to a rack, and let it cool at least 1 hour before slicing.
12 to 16 servings