Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Simple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

I don't know what it is about bringing a cake to someone's house. Especially a carrot cake. Everyone is always incredibly impressed. I always feel a tad guilty accepting all of the wonderful praise. One, it's not my recipe (thank you again Cook's Illustrated!). Two, it truly is easy to make a cake from scratch. You just have to be willing to invest a little bit more time and elbow grease. This recipe though definitely is a good go to carrot cake recipe. It was moist, full of carrot and spice flavor. I am usually very, very critical of my own baking (even when I am getting all that praise), but this cake I have to admit did deliver. I hate when a carrot cake is really just a glorified spice cake overloaded by a cream cheese icing flavor. Don't get me wrong, I love any good cake. And cream cheese icing? Don't get me started. It is just that when it comes to carrot cake I want a CARROT cake.  This recipe I believe did succeed. Of course, knowing me it will not be the last carrot cake recipe I will try.

To make the cake, I grated all my carrots by hand. Yes, you can definitely use a food processor. I chose to do this by hand. It's a great way to not feel guilty when you have to skip the gym because you just HAD to make a cake.

I also only added toasted walnuts to my cake. Feel free to add pecans, or omit. You can also add pineapple chunks, raisins, or coconut. Me? I am a carrot cake purist! Ok- and it is just easier and cheaper. Personally, the cake was delicious without all the add-ins. To each his own.

Making a cake from scratch is truly satisfying though. And I am truly on a "make everything from scratch" kick (more like a moving train that has no plan of stopping). The more you read box labels (or attempt to because you can't read half of what is on the label!) the more you may be tempted to also bake everything you can from scratch. Even grate your carrots by hand.

Simple Carrot Cake
Originally from Cook's Illustrated

makes one 13 by 9-inch cake- I baked mine in two 9 inch round pans.

you can add walnuts and raisins, both or neither, if you do both, add about ten minutes onto your baking time.

I also added toasted crushed walnuts to the outside of the cake. It looks pretty and also covers up any frosting faux-pas one might have.
Ingredients:2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound (6 to 7 medium) carrots, peeled

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups safflower, canola, or vegetable oil

1. for the cake: adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan (or two 9-inch round pans) with nonstick cooking spray. 
2. whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
3. Grate 6-7 medium carrots by hand. Set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, combine sugars and eggs and mix until frothy and thoroughly combined. While mixer is running, add oil. 
5. Stir in dry ingredients, until no flour remains.
6.If you use a food processor- in food processor fitted with large shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. Wipe out food processor workbowl and fit with metal blade. process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. with machine running, add oil through feed tube in steady stream. process until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. scrape mixture into medium bowl. stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. 
7. Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours. 

Cream Cheese Frosting
Originally from Annie's Eats

* I ended up making 3 batches of this frosting to frost my cake. I did have a little leftover. But I would prefer that as opposed to not enough. If you make a sheet cake- I would put money on it that one batch would suffice!

8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1. Cream together cream cheese and butter.
2. Add vanilla extract.
3. Add sugar (I add a 1/2 cup to a cup at a time- just to avoid a huge mess!) and mix until delcious and creamy!
4. Try to avoid eating it straight from the bowl and allow your cake to cool to frost.

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