Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Carrot Cake

With this belated post, I will finally be done sharing all the recipes I made for the football party last week!  Sorry it is so late: Dad was sick, and then I was sick, and I am just now starting to feel like a human enough to discuss baked goods.

Anyway, I told Kenzie and Mom to choose a dessert for the party.  I already had plans to make all the things I have posted this past week, but I had nothing sweet in mind.  Kenzie weirdly decided on a carrot cake.  I say weirdly because carrot cake really doesn't scream Kenzie.  Oreos?  Yes.  Gummies? Definitely. Carrot cake, not so much.  But hey, she and Mom were excited, so I agreed.

Luckily I had my food processor to help me grate the carrots, since it calls for 2 3/4 cups grated carrots!  That made this recipe pretty quick.  The cake is spiced with ginger and nutmeg, and flecked with carrot and pecan.  And it's pretty tall: you make three layers and frost it all with cream cheese frosting.  Note about the frosting: the recipe weirdly calls for 2 pounds of sugar.  I thought that was ridiculous and so I used maybe a fourth of that.  I kept adding little bits and tasting it until it was just right.  Yeah, it was a tough job to taste test all that frosting, but somebody had to do it ;)

The end result was a huge hit.  Everyone loved it, and that is pretty special for a party of about 10 people!  In fact, Tracy said she doesn't even like carrot cake, but she loved this one.  Mom may or may not have eaten multiple pieces every day until it was gone.  I had a piece myself, and though I am not a cake person, it was pretty good.  The cake was spicy and sweet, and the cream cheese frosting might just be the best tasting stuff on earth.  The idea of pressing chopped pecans into the frosting on the sides of the cake is rather great because it makes the cake look so pretty - rare, for something I baked!

And so, while I had my doubts about a carrot cake being the sole dessert at a football party, I now am a believer in the power of the carrot.


carrot cake
from Martha Stewart


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound carrots (8 to 10 medium carrots), peeled and shredded on a box grater or in a food processor (about 2 3/4 cups)
  • 2 cups pecans (1 cup finely chopped for batter, 1 cup coarsely chopped for decorating sides of cake)
  • 1 recipe cream cheese frosting (see below)

  • Directions:

  • 1)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.

  • 2) Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat 3 minutes. Add vanilla, water, and carrots. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture, then finely chopped pecans.

  • 3) Scrape batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen, and turn out cakes onto rack. Turn right side up, and let cool completely.  Meanwhile, make the frosting (see below).

  • 4) Using a serrated knife, trim rounded top of 2 cakes (mine were actually flat enough so I got to skip this step). Place one trimmed cake, cut side up, on a serving platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with second trimmed cake, cut side down. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with remaining cake. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides. Gently press coarsely chopped pecans onto sides of cake. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving (I did not do this!)

cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted (*NOTE: I used far, far less than 2 pounds of sugar.  I thought that was insane.  I maybe used a cup, maybe a little more, and just tasted it every now and then.  I thought it was perfect, so make sure you test as you go!)

  • Directions:
  • 1) In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add butter, beating until incorporated.

  • 2) Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add sugar, beating until incorporated.

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