23 March 2008

Carrot Cake

Happy Easter Wishes to everyone! Thought perhaps this cake would be an appropriate post today, given bunnies and carrots and all that :)

I made this cake for a coworker's birthday. Never attempted carrot cake before, and now I'm wondering why not! I've always loved the frosting (cream cheese, mmmm). The cake, though? I haven't eaten a ton of carrot cake in my lifetime, but when I have it is either (1) basically a plain old spice cake, or (2) has such huge chunks of shredded carrot that it's somewhat crunchy and very off-putting. I wanted to try my hand at this sort of thing, though, so I decided on this for a birthday cake. It's a 30+ year-old recipe, so it's gotta be good, right? I adapted it a bit to make a 9X13 sheet-like cake, and I had *just* enough batter left to fill a few ramekins, for making a "model cake" for the blog. Yes, I know. I'm so clever. Hubs is a lucky man to be married to me, I always find a way to make him a little extra ;)

This cake was very good. The shredded carrot was soft and only detectable in that it gave the cake a sweet, mellow "carrot" flavor (sorry, how else does one describe that? Carrot-y?). This cake is also chock-full of goodies, coconut as well as dried cranberries and pecans, which was soooo nice and kept it from tasting like any old spicy cake. The crumb was very different - almost sticky, but verrry soft which was a nice contrast to the textures of the cranberries and pecans. A good light cake with chunky goodies tucked inside.
The frosting, I will admit, was not as "cream-cheesy" as I would have liked, but that very much could have been user error. However, I loved how she added coconut (something I hadn't seen in other frostings for carrot cakes). All in all a keeper! In fact, I'm dying to make this again right now. Maybe fuss with it a little bit, add some pineapple or different nuts or maybe even cocoa...

Carrot Cake
(from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home To Yours)


2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. freshly grated cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
9 grated carrots (you want 3 c. of grated carrot)
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans
1 c. shredded coconut
1/2 c. dried cranberries
2 c. sugar1 c. canola oil
4 eggs
8 oz.cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 c. confectioners sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1.5 c. shredded coconut
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325 F. Butter three 9 x 2 inch round cake pans, or one 9X13 pan (which is what I used). Flour the insides and tap our the excess. If using 3 pans, make sure you have 3 racks in the oven that are evenly spaced apart.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl stir together the carrots, pecans, coconut, and cranberries. Set both aside.

Using a stand mixer, mix together the oil and sugar together, until they are smooth. Add the eggs one by one, and beat until the batter is smooth. Reduce the speed and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear.

Gently mix in the carrot mixture by hand. Divide the batter evenly among the pans (or add all to a 9X13). Bake for 40-50 min, or until a small knife comes out clean, and the cake has just started to move away from the sides of the pans. Allow to cool for 5 min on a cooling rack, and then unmold the cakes.

When cakes are cooled: Combine the cream cheese and butter in the stand mixer bowl, and using a paddle attachment mix until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the lemon juice and mix until combined.

To assemble: Put aside half of the frosting. To the other half, add more shredded coconut (about 1/2 c.). Use this frosting between the three layers of cake. If desired, then frost the outside of the cake with the regular (non-coconut) frosting. I skipped this though, because I loved the look without. Smooth with a butter knife if desired. Sprinkle on the toasted coconut on the top, and using the palm of your hand lightly press the coconut into the sides of the cake.

Sprinkle the top of the cake with the pecan pieces. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes so that the icing can set; after that point, you can leave it at room temperature and covered. Cake will keep at room temperature for 3 days.


Brilynn said...

Love this cake!
I made it last year sometime and definitely need to revisit it.

Gretchen Noelle said...

Great idea to bake little cakes in ramekins. Not sure why I hadn't ever thought of that! Perfect! I am still on a quest for the perfect carrot cake recipe. I just made carrot cake cupcakes yesterday and although good, just not great. Maybe I shall try this one! Happy Easter!

Anonymous said...

Those are so cute! I love the size.

grace said...

dried cranberries = awesome addition!

i looove cream cheese icing, so i probably would've iced the sides of the little cakes before i ate them all...

Anonymous said...

The texture looks fantastic! I plan to make this for my mother-in-law's birthday this Thursday.You can't go wrong with Dorie can you? Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

CARROT CAKE IS TAKNG OVER - they are everywhere!! but with good reason - those look perfect!!

whitneyingram said...

That looks absolutely beautiful. I need to get me a Dorie Greenspan cookbook. You seems to get alot of stuff out of her books.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad there is someone else who understands this thought process... Easter>Bunnies>Carrots>Carrot CAKE! I too baked my first carrot cake this past weekend. I used Alton Brown's recipie which, for some reason, lacks nuts and rasins so I added both. I found his Cream Cheese frosting to be very satisfyingly Cream Cheesey so you might give that one a try next time. The only downfall was that it made just exactly the right amount to ice the cake... not much to let hubs lick out of the bowl... ;)

Momto5 RachelJoy Photography said...

oh my goodness! my husband proposed over carrot cake...sigh...


Anonymous said...

Love your little cake version :) I should try that for my little girl's birthday :) Like the idea of adding coconut - the flavour will be very interesting. :)

Morven said...

Sounds like Dorie does good yet again. I will have to try this recipe after your glowing recommendation.

Helene said...

I have not tried this one yet, but I want to make it soon to compare with the ultra tasty and ultra easy one from Sweet Melissa. Looks wonderfully moist and tasty!

Denise ^ ChickyEGG said...

I heart this recipe! Very good!!! Thanks Cast Sugar.

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Michael Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Dan said...

Your photos said it all - looks very delicious and makes me wanna feel hungry. Anyways, thanks for this amazing recipe. I'm gonna try it with Desiccated Coconut from Celebes Coconut Corporation.