Carrot Cake!

Is this the most carrot-filled carrot cake ever? We certainly tried to make it that way. Most carrot cakes are packed with a lot of things, but we chose not to add raisins or walnuts in our layers. Not because we don’t like them, but because we wanted nothing to distract from the sweet vegetal flavor of the carrot. There’s still some spice in the cake, but as you can see, we employed a light hand.

This recipe (adapted from one of Maida Heatter’s Cakes, which has not one but three recipes for different kinds of carrot cake) calls for about a pound and a half of carrots (we grated by hand, but if you have a food mill or processor and do not like to make things more difficult for yourself, you don’t have to) and smells unbelievably good even while baking in the oven. It probably has the most moist crumb of all the cakes we’ve made so far. Give yourself plenty of time to make the cake. You can make the carrot jam ahead of time. You can bake and cool the layers the night before, too. The cake is best served as a cold dessert, straight out of the fridge, with a nice cup of tea or coffee.

For the carrot jam:
2 (firmly packed) cups sliced carrots
Water, as needed
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tsp orange juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the cake:
4 (firmly packed) cups shredded carrots
2 cups cake flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large or extra-large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

For the cream cheese frosting:
1/2 cup / 1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup / 1 stick cream cheese
1 cup lightly crushed walnuts
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tbsps carrot jam
4 tbsps shredded carrot
1 tsp vanilla extract

Make your carrot jam. Slice the carrots and put them in a saucepan covered with water. Boil until very soft. Mash by hand or run through a food mill to puree. Stir the sugar into the puree in a saucepan. Add the orange zest and juice. Bring to a boil. Cook until glassy and jammy. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in vanilla extract. Cool. Store in jar or air-tight container until ready for use.

Make your cake. Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Grease and flour two 9×2 inch round cake pans. Line with parchment.

Grate the carrots using a food processor or a standing metal grater. Measure and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs. Add the vanilla, orange, both sugars, and oil, and mix until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed only until combined. Stir in carrots.

Divide the batter evenly among the pans. Use a spatula to even out the batter. Bake the pans for 35 to 40 minutes or until the tops just spring back when gently pressed and the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and let stand 2-3 minutes in the pans on a cooling rack. Unmold. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until cakes are firm enough to handle. If you wish to freeze the cakes longer, wrap the frozen layers in plastic wrap and return to the freezer until you are ready to frost the cake. Do not thaw the layers before icing.

Make your cream cheese and carrot frosting. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Gradually add powdered sugar and shredded carrots. Beat in vanilla extract. Mix on low speed until smooth and creamy. Set aside until ready for use.

Assemble your cake. Place a dab of frosting on your cake plate, bottom or cardboard. Place one cold and firm cake layer upside down on the plate. Spread a thin layer of the icing evenly over the cake. Move the spatula in the same direction (this way the loose crumbs will be nicely tucked into the frosting). Spread a thicker layer of frosting on the top of your cake. Spread as much carrot jam as you’d like on top of the frosting. Cover with the second layer. Spread another thin layer of frosting on the second layer. Place the cake in the fridge for an hour to set if necessary before adding more frosting. Smooth the frosting. Take your spatula and work back and forth across the surface and sides to smooth it. Wipe off any excess frosting if necessary. Do this until you think you’re happy with your cake. Sprinkle with crushed walnuts. Refrigerate the cake for a few hours or for a day or two. Serve cold right from the refrigerator.

Have some cake. We hope you like carrots!

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2 thoughts on “Carrot Cake!

    • Thanks! Carrot cake is so ubiquitous – every restaurant, cafe or snack bar will probably have one – yet it’s hard to find one that has enough carrot in it for me, so I took matters into my own hands!

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