Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Carrot cake with maple cream cheese frosting

I was looking for a good carrot cake recipe since fall is coming, and I knew it was the favorite cake of my friend who graciously loaned me her dehumidifier for my cave-like apartment (Not cave-like anymore!). I'm not saying you should make a cake for someone every time they loan you their dehumidifier, but... well, there's always room for cake. We made a party out of sending out 500 of our new cds for the band... so you can imagine how cake and music were required! This recipe uses white whole wheat flour from King Arthur (I LOVE this flour- there is no other flour for me), and evaporated cane juice sugar, which is similar to turbinado sugar. As such, this cake has no refined grains or sugars. It adds a nuttiness and earthy feel to this cake. It is moist, aromatic, slightly spicy, with a hint of maple sweetness. Get your ovens started!

Grating carrots is definitely a labor of love. Totally boring! 

Totally. Boring. 
Cake Tips:
 1. Line the 9inch circular baking pans with parchment paper. Lightly oil the bottom of the pan, then place the cut parchment paper in the pan, then lightly oil the parchment paper, and sides of the pan. The oiled pan will help the parchment adhere. When the cake is done and ready to be removed, the parchment will allow it to easily pop out- brilliant! I hate cutting parchment, but I fold the paper into quarters, and then use one of the pointy middle corners as the center, from which I cut the ends to size.

Don't worry about how the edges are crimped and folded. Once the batter is poured into the pan it will settle. Everything will be all right.

2. Frosting cakes can be tricky business. Check out Deb's tutorial here, or if you're lazy, the gist of it is to keep the cakes in the freezer before frosting, and then to first apply a light "crumb" coat, then chill the cake again. This will make your secondary coat glide on easily, and look beautiful and "cakey"- look.

Carrot Cake
adapted from
2 cups White Whole Wheat flour (I highly recommend King Arthur)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups evaporated cane juice sugar
1 1/4 Cups canola oil
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

For decoration:
Honey- for drizzling over the walnuts
2 cups of toasted, coarsely chopped walnuts

Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Frosting
2 eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil and flour pan. If using parchment no need to flour pan. In a medium sized bowl, mix together dry ingredients: flour, spices, salt, baking soda. In another bowl mix the oil and sugar until well combined. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, stirring until incorporated. Add walnuts and raisins, if using. Mix until just combined, then evenly divide the batter between the two baking pans.

Bake for 40 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pans, placing on a cooling rack. Slide a butter knife between the edge of the cake and the pan, and invert onto a plate. At this point you can wrap and freeze them, or place in the refrigerator or freezer to chill before icing.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients, mixing with an electric mixer on low until the sugar is incorporated (or it will fly out and look like Christmas in your kitchen!). Mix it for about five minutes until... well, you'll know when : ). Stop every so often to scrape the sides if needed. You are looking for a silky, smooth, fluffy, light colored whippy goodness. Pop it in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to let it set up a little before using.

To assemble cake:
* Sometimes I drizzle the tops of the cakes with a simple syrup (mixture of water and sugar) to keep the cakes moist. I only do this with cakes that I have frozen and made a day or two later, to ensure that they are just as moist. It works really well! To make simple syrup, boil equal parts water and sugar, and let cool. In fact, for this cake, I brushed it on the frozen cakes while it was still warm, and it ended up being fine.

Place one cake, flat side down, on a large, flat plate. Place scraps of parchment on the bottom so the icing doesn't get all over the plate. Frost the sides and generously dollop frosting in the middle of the cake, spreading out and down the sides. Take the second cake, and place it on top of the first one, flat side up (easier to ice). Again, start with big dollops in the middle, working your way to the sides and bottom of the cake. Pop in the fridge to let set for about ten minutes, while you coarsely chop the walnuts. When you're done with the walnuts, take out the cake and gently press them into the sides of the cake. This will get messy. It will be ugly before it is pretty. But soldier on, and your patience will yield a messy workstation, and a scrumptious looking cake. You can decorate the cake any way you want! Walnuts just on top, just on the sides, no walnuts... as you wish! A drizzle of honey over the walnuts adds a nice touch, feel free to omit though.

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