Mini SGCC has a boyfriend. He’s actually been around for almost a year now, but I wasn’t allowed to blog about it. I’m still not, but I have to because otherwise there would be no story to tell about this cake. And, this cake is too wonderful not to share with you. So, tough beans, Mini SGCC. Sue me!
Anyway, The Boy’s birthday was the other day. I thought it would be nice to bake him a little birthday cake, since he’s over for dinner almost every night anyway. Besides, he’s kinda starting to grow on me. From a little subtle investigating, I discovered that his favorite kind of cake is carrot cake. It just so happens that carrot cake is one of my favorites too, which worked out nicely since I hate to bake things that I don’t personally like. I mean, why put all that time and energy into something that you don’t love yourself – unless, of course, someone is paying you. That’s a different story. I’d even bake a Brussels sprouts cake if you paid me. Well, maybe not. But, you get the point.
I was planning to use my standard “go to” carrot cake recipe, but I thought I’d sniff around the web to see what else was out there. I’m glad I did, because I found a few that looked simply fantastic. In the end, I went with a recipe I found on Zoe’s site, which was adapted from The Essential Baker by Carole Bloom. Zoe calls it “the ultimate carrot cake”, and I’m here to tell you that she’s right!
Zoe’s cake boasted three layers filled with decadent cream cheese frosting. I was on a time deadline, so mine only has two. If you can, go for the extra layer. More cream cheese frosting is definitely a goal to aspire to. Zoe also decorated the outside of her cake with coconut. I didn’t because I didn’t have any. Also, Mini SGCC doesn’t really like coconut, and I want to stay on her good side, (especially because she might get pissed about me writing this post). And by the way, no cracks about my cake decorating skills allowed. There’s a reason why I’m not a pastry chef.
To make this cake, the first thing you have to do is grate about a pound of carrots up in the food processor. You can also do this by hand, but you might end up with some bloody knuckles. Don’t ask me how I know this. I just do. Then mix together all of your dry ingredients in one bowl, and all of your wet ingredients in another. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and then mix in the carrots, some raisins, nuts and if you’re me, some crushed pineapple.
It should look like this.
Once your batter is all mixed up, pour half in each of two lightly oiled 9-inch cake pans lined with parchment paper. This will make things much easier when you try to remove the cakes from the pans.
All ready to go into the oven…
Bake the cakes until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. My cakes took about 40 minutes to get there.
Let your cakes cool completely before attempting to “de-pan” them. I know that it’s hard to wait, but trust me on this one.
While your cakes were in the oven you should have been whipping up your delectable cream cheese frosting. If not, hurry and make it now. I’ll wait.
Now, here is where I would ordinarily show you a shot of me frosting the cake. But I was using my brand new 5D Mark 2, and there was no way I was going to risk getting cream cheese frosting on that baby! So, you’ll have to use your imagination for that step.
First, dump a big blob of frosting on the bottom layer of the cake and schmear it all over the top with an offset spatula. Then, c.a.r.e.f.u.l.l.y. set the top layer of the cake on top. Dump enough frosting on to cover the top and sides and then smooth it out as best you can. I have one of those cake turntables that swivels around, and it makes this step a whole lot easier. No mater how hard I try, I can never get the frosting completely smooth. If you’re like me, just swirl the frosting around a little and tell everybody that it’s supposed to be “rustic” . No one will know the truth except you and me – and my lips are sealed.
TA DA! CAKE!
Remember, no cracks about my cake decorating skills!
Here’s a gratuitous “art shot” of the frosting that I decided to throw in – just because.
Anyway, this cake is now officially my new “go to” carrot cake. It is incredibly moist, rich and lightly spiced, yet not too sweet. Many carrot cakes have the dubious distinction of being as dense and heavy as bricks. Not this one. It’s crumb is fluffy and tender, just like a good cake should be. And, the frosting? Well, it’s full of cream cheese, butter and sugar. It’s divine! What more can I say?
So, what did The Boy think? I think he liked it. There might have been a bit of groaning going on in between forkfuls of cake. But, that might have been Mr. SGCC. I’m not really sure.
Ultimate Carrot Cake
adapted from The Essential Baker via Zoe Bakes
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 extra large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 pound finely grated carrots
1 cup toasted chopped pecans
1 cup golden raisins
1 batch Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by lightly coating with oil and lining with parchment paper.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and nutmeg together in a bowl. Set aside.
Mix the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, brown sugar, vanilla, and pineapple together in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in the carrots, pecans and raisins just until evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake on the center rack for about 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.
Cool cakes in their pans for at least 30 minutes before attempting to remove them. Then, removed from the pans and peel off the parchment paper. Continue to cool the cakes completely before frosting.
To assemble the cake, place the bottom layer on a cardboard round or other flat surface and put on a cake turntable. Scoop about 1 1/2 cups of the cream cheese icing onto the top of the bottom cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly over the surface. Carefully place the second layer on top. Scoop another 1 1/2 cups or so of the frosting on the top of the cake and spread evenly, easing the frosting down the sides. Spread the icing around the sides of the cake, adding more as needed. Lift the cake off the turn table and place on a cake stand or platter and chill a bit to firm up the frosting before slicing.
SGCC’S Favorite Cream Cheese Frosting
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar to taste
Beat cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add extracts and beat just until incorporated. Beat in sugar, one cup at a time, until frosting has the flavor and consistency you want. You may not need to add all of the sugar.