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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Carrot Cake

Stack as many layers as you want!
"Moist" is rarely a pleasant word, but when it's describing carrot cake that's another story. Carrot cake is our of my favorites, but the ingredient ratios in this recipe produce the perfect balance of texture, moistness and flavor. This is my friend's recipe and she was kind enough to share it with us. It's so delicious that I'm only allowed to make it when lots of people coming over or I'd literally eat the entire cake by myself.

It's so simple it doesn't even need a mixer. The most difficult task is grating the fresh carrots. As long as you scrub them well, there's no need to bother with peeling them. But we definitely wouldn't use pre-grated carrots because they're a little dry and as a result don't add any carrot flavor to the cake.

The thing about carrot cake is that it's really just a spice cake with carrots added for texture and flavor. The cake also has shredded coconut and sometimes raisins or nuts. As long as you keep the batter the same, it's easy to swap the carrots, coconuts and raisins with other dried fruit to try something new.

And since we're on the subject of baking cake, did you realize that baking soda (and baking powder) lose a lot of their effectiveness within 6 months of being opened? So while you're at the store getting carrots, it's probably a good time to spend the $3 to get new ones. Also, spices only last about a year before they start going flat. The spices for this cake are especially important, so if you think your spices might be a bit stale, you might want to refresh them as well - especially the cinnamon.

We use to bake this into 3 cake layer pans to create a big fancy presentation, but I've found an easier way. I bake it into a 9x13 pan. It's easy to store and serve for family. If you want to display the whole thing on a buffet with some oomf, turn it out onto a cutting board, cut it in half, do a small bit of edge trimming then ice and stack the two halves. We like that the sides aren't iced because we think it gives the cake a more sophisticated look. The leftovers stay in the pan and can be easily covered to keep it moist and fresh.

Batter Ingredients:
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (preferably not lowfat)
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups freshly grated carrots
  • 8 oz (1 cup) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 cups properly measured all-purpose flour (250g)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp regular table salt
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice, 1/4 tsp cloves)
  • 2/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut flakes
  • 2/3 cup walnuts (optional)
  • 2/3 cup raisins (optional)
 Batter Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C).
  2. Grease and flour a 9x13 pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until mixed.
  4. Slowly pour in the oil while whisking until thoroughly combined
  5. Slowly pour in the butter milk while whisking until thoroughly combined
  6. Stir in the vanilla extract, carrots and pineapple and set aside to come to room temperature while mixing the dry ingredients.
    Fresh grated carrots color the liquid
  7. In a large bowl, whisk all the remaining dry ingredients until well-mixed.
  8. Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture gently just until barely mixed.
  9. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out without crumbs and the cake doesn't jiggle in middle when gently shaken.
  10. Cool completely.
Icing Ingredients:
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz powdered confectioner's sugar

    * Note - the icing recipe makes enough to ice a 9x13 cake and you can stack them. If you bake the cake into 3 layers, you'll want to double this icing recipe.
Icing Directions:
  1.  Mix cream cheese, butter and vanilla with hand mixer for 3 to 4 minutes until extremely light and fluffy.
  2. Add powdered confectioner's sugar while mixing on low until incorporated, then beat on high for 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Ice the top of the cake while it is still in the 9x13 pan.
  4. Cover until ready to serve.
Easy to store. For casual home eating, you can cut small
pieces right from here. For fancier presentation, you
can simply stack them on individual plates.
This serving spatula is perfect for this use!

Stack as many layers as you want

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