Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Carrot Cake

Carrot is my favorite kind of cake.  This may be because cream cheese is my favorite kind of frosting.  Plus, you're eating vegetables, so it's "healthy".  Eat enough carrots and you get a nice fake tan (ie. your skin turns orange).  Eat enough carrot cake and you'll get more than a fake tan, but we're all about moderation around here.  

Carrot Cake
recipe from Joy of Baking

3/4 pound (340 grams) raw carrots (about 2 1/2 cups finely grated)
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar (I would cut this down to one cup next time, it was pretty sweet!)
1 cup (240 ml) safflower, vegetable or canola oil(or other flavorless oil)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (optional, but makes the cake super moist)
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces (227 grams)cream cheese, room temperature
cups (230 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugarsifted
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. 
Butter or spray two - 9 x 2 inch (23 x 5 cm) cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with a circle of parchment paper. 
Peel and finely grate the carrots. You can grate the carrots by hand, but that's a bit tedious.  If you have a food processor, you can use the grating disc to shred the carrots in a few moments.  I considered that option, but the food processor is all the way in the basement, and I already had enough appliances on the counter.  I used the handy grating attachment for my KitchenAid.  When I bought my mixer, I had the option of one of two free gifts.  The grater/slicing attachment you see here, or the meat grinding attachment.  Nothing cool like the pasta or ice cream attachment.  Since I don't do a whole lot of meat grinding, I went with the grater.  

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon.
In bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs until frothy (about 1 minute). Gradually add the sugar and beat until the batter is thick and light colored (about 3 - 4 minutes). Add the oil in a steady stream and then beat in the applesauce and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. 
With a large rubber spatula, fold in the grated carrots. I used to get nervous when directed to fold into batter.  I know the point is to mix while not eliminating all the air you've previously beaten in.  I don't think I've ever ruined a cake by folding improperly, so just remember to make big scooping motions and turn the bowl as you go.
Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 5 -10 minutes invert the cakes onto the wire rack, remove the pans and parchment paper, and then cool completely before frosting. I made the cakes a day in advance and wrapped them in plastic for the night.  

Cream Cheese Frosting:
In bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, just until blended with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth.  Beat in the vanilla extract, and lemon zest.

To assemble: place one cake layer onto your serving plate. Spread with about half the frosting. Gently place the other cake onto the frosting and spread the rest of the frosting over the top of the cake. If desired, garnish with toasted nuts or coconut on the top of the cake. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

This was part of the Easter dessert spread at my in-laws.  We had a few slices leftover, and I can say they are even better when chilled in the fridge.  I had planned to freeze the rest, but we'll see how that goes.



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