Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

"Oh, shoot!  We ate the entire cake, didn't we?"  Except I didn't say shoot.  Ahem.  I said something that would've required me to put a quarter in the office swear jar.

It wasn't merely the fact that we did, indeed, eat the entire cake that caused me to turn into a run-of-the-mill potty mouth.  Instead, it was the sudden realization that I forgot to take a picture of a slice of said cake.

Oh, Katy, you are the worst.

Yep, I most certainly am.  It's just... well, here's the thing.  There was so much going on and I... I just... got distracted.  For many reasons.

First, I was swept up in the moment celebrating!  I made the cake for my sweet mother's 64th birthday last weekend.  64!  (I'm proud to say that she neither looks nor acts her age, and I fully intend to follow in her footsteps.)  The entire family went out for dinner at my mom's favorite restaurant.  After passing on dessert at Mauro's, we returned to my parents' house craving something sweet.  Carrot cake birthday cake was waiting for us!

Second, I knew what everyone was about to sink their teeth into because I baked said cake.  I had tasted the batter and sampled (and sampled again) the cream cheese frosting during assembly.  If A is good and B is good, then A plus B is absolutely good.

And then, well, this last reason is a bit unfair, at least to my family.  I knew exactly what awaited us in that very carrot cake because I permitted myself a tiny sliver of the single layer cake I'd taken to work earlier that day.  Eep!

I really meant to abstain, I swear.  I was full of self-discipline, willpower, and a general sense of naivete to start the morning.  But, as the day rolled on, and coworkers commented again and again on how delicious the carrot cake was, I became obsessed with the idea of sneaking a piece.  It was literally all I could think about.

Soooooooooooo, yeah.  It happened.  I succumbed to my weak human desires and prematurely enjoyed my mom's birthday carrot cake.  And it was  I literally couldn't form words in my brain for a few minutes during eating.

It was the most moist cake I've ever baked!  And chock full of the yummy things.  Plump raisins, chewy coconut, crunchy walnuts, and an array of warm spices to flavor the whole shebang.  I'm very finicky about desserts and what should and should not be in them, and carrot cake is not immune to my guidelines.  Carrot cake should always have lots of stuff in it.  Show me a naked carrot cake, and I'll show you the door.

And to top it all off, the quintessential cream cheese icing.  Shutthefrontdoor!  This icing.  I don't even need to tell you because you already know.  You know that the real reason I increased the quantity of icing by 50% was so that adequate sampling could occur.  Not only am I a poor photojournalist, but I'm an icing thief, too.

Katy, you really are the worst.

But, but, but.  This carrot cake is the best!  And I did a good deed by making it for my sweet mother.  And everyone loved it!  I can't be that bad, right? :)

One year ago: Almond pound cake

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, who adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe)

A few notes: Rather than 1 three-layer cake, I made 1 two-layer cake and 1 single layer cake.  Because of this, I took Michelle's advice and increased the frosting recipe by 50% to ensure I had enough frosting.  It was the perfect amount.  If you do separate cakes or like a substantial amount of frosting between layers (who doesn't?!), I'd suggest doing the same.  The amounts for the larger batch of icing are as follows: 12 ounces (1 1/2 blocks) cream cheese, 1 1/2 sticks butter, 1.5 pounds (about 5 2/3 cups) powdered sugar, and 1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract.  The quantities listed below are from the original recipe.

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 1-1.25 pounds)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (1 stick = 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound (3 3/4 cups) powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack in center of the oven.  Grease and flour (and line bottom with parchment rounds) three 9-inch cake pans.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, spices and salt.  In another bowl, stir together carrots, nuts, coconut, and raisins.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and oil together on medium speed until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until batter is smooth.  Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until no more flour is visible.  Gently mix in the carrot mixture.  Divide batter among the three baking pans (2 cups batter per pan).

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the pans from front to back in the oven at the midway point during cooking.  Remove cakes when a knife inserted into the centers comes out clean and the cakes have just begun to come away from the sides of the pan.  Cool in pans on rack for 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the sides between the cakes and pans, unmold, and right side up cool completely on rack.  (Cakes can be wrapped airtight in plastic and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for 2 months.)

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until frosting is smooth.  Mix in vanilla until well-combined.

To assemble, stack the cakes, spreading a generous amount of frosting between the layers and then cover the top and sides.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!  (Cake can be kept, covered and at room temperature for up to 3 days.)

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