Carrot cake was a challenge I knew I could handle! Unlike the marshmallows last week this recipe gave me very few headaches, and it turned out wonderfully. Now as much as I love a huge slice of carrot cake layered with cream cheese frosting, I only let myself join TWD on the condition that I would not use it as an excuse to gorge myself on sweet baked goods. So I opted to make cupcakes that Tyler and I could easily transport and pawn off on our co-workers and one mini-cake for us to split.
I had actually seen this recipe featured awhile back on Nemmie’s blog and I bookmarked it for later use. I love what she did with her mini-cakes! Unfortunately I dropped the pan while I was testing for doneness and my cake collapsed a bit and ended up lopsided. So I wasn’t able to cut it in half and turn it into a mini-layer cake. I just covered it with frosting instead. SO VERY DELISH! I think the toasted coconut on top really adds the perfect touch! I opted for pecans instead of walnuts and I also omitted the raisins. I know Tyler and I would have just picked them out. Everyone we shared the cupcakes with has just raved about them! They taste so delicious, the cake is perfectly moist and the frosting is just gooey enough.
The only real “problem” I had with this recipe was that the cupcakes sank a bit in the center, which I read other people had happen with their cupcakes as well. The frosting covered it up though so no big deal.
To see how other TWD participants fared with this week’s challenge, head on over to the blogroll.
Bill’s Big Carrot Cake (from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours)
For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater) (I bought julienned carrots and ran them through the food processor a few times to chop them up, saved me a ton of time!)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese and had no problems)
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)
I also added 1/2 T of vanilla for some added sweetness
Since I made cupcakes I just put liners in the cupcake pan, I made two batches of 12 cupcakes each. I baked my cupcakes for 25 minutes and tested for doneness with a toothpick. For my mini-cake I sprayed a ramekin with non-stick spray and filled it 3/4 full with batter, baked for 25 minutes. Cooled 5 minutes in the ramekin, then I removed it and let it cool all the way on a cooling rack with my cupcakes.
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.
To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.
To make the frosting:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract. (I added the vanilla with the lemon juice)
If you’d like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.
To assemble the cake:
Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.
Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.
This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it’s good plain, it’s even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.
The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it’s firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.