I don’t really think of myself as much of a frosted cake maker. My hobbit cousin on the other hand, makes all sorts of delicious, nice-looking cakes and even knows how to make different kinds of frostings. I find cakes intimidating for some reason. Maybe I experienced some past cake making-related trauma that is now buried somewhere in my subconscious and has made me wary of attempting them. Anyway, I decided to make this one for several reasons:
1. I was feeling brave.
2. Carrots seemed like a good ingredient to use – one I hadn’t used yet for the weekly ESOL dessert.
3. I had had this cake at Flour several times, and was pretty impressed with it given that its starring ingredient is a vegetable instead of chocolate.
4. This is the only cake off which I will actually eat the frosting. And not just some of it, but ALL of it.
5. I was smitten by the carrot curlycues.
The cake was pretty straightforward to make. I ran out of carrots, didn’t have a cake pan small enough to make a nice tall cake, and did not let my butter soften enough for the frosting, but it still turned out moist and tasty! (Heh. I picked out the larger pieces of butter, so the frosting was smooth for the most part.)
CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery
Yields one 8-inch two-layer cake
Cake can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Best served a little cooler than room temperature (place at RT ~2 hours before serving), but is still good straight from the fridge.
Ingredients for Cake
1 c. light brown sugar, packed
3/4 c. canola oil
3 Tbsp nonfat buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla exgract
1 c. plus 2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 c. shredded carrots, tightly packed
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped
Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting
12 oz. cream cheese, RT
1/2 c. unsalted butter, RT
1 2/3 c. confectioner’s sugar
Ingredients for Candied Carrot Strips (Optional)
1 small carrot
1 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. water
Optional: medium slice of fresh ginger
To Make the Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8-inch cake pan
2. Beat eggs and brown sugar on medium-high speed until mixture is light and thick (~3-4 minutes).
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, buttermilk and vanilla.
4. On low speed, gradually pour the oil mixture into the egg-sugar mixture.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
6. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture. When most of the flour mixture has been incorporated, add the carrots, raisins and nuts, and fold until the batter is homogenous.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
8. Bake the cake until the top is golden brown and springs back when pressed in the middle with a finger tip (~1 hour 20 mins). Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. (I think my cake pan was about 9 or 10-inches, and it only took 40-50 minutes to bake).
To Make the Frosting: (about 3.5 cups)
1. Beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.
2. Add the butter and continue to beat for another minute.
3. Add the confectioners’ sugar. Beat for 1 more minute, or until well mixed.
4. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours to firm up enough to spread.
The frosting can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
To Make the Carrot Strips (if using):
1. Peel the carrot with a vegetable peeler.
2. Using the peeler, peel paper-thin strips. You should have 6-10 long strips depending on the size of the carrot.
3. In a saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the carrot strips and boil for 10 seconds.
*Edit: The last time I made this, I added a medium slice of fresh ginger to the water before bringing it to a boil. I felt it added a nice flavor to the carrots.
4. Remove the pot from heat and cool completely.
Strips can be stored in the syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.
To Assemble the Cake:
1. Remove the cake from the pan and split into two layers:
- Score the edge of the cake with a serrated bread knife (you can measure and mark with toothpicks for even layers, or just eyeball it).
- Wrap a long strand of dental floss around the cake, fitting the floss into the score line.
- Cross the ends of the floss and pull gently until the floss cuts through the cake.
- Slide the top layer onto a cookie sheet without edges (you can use a piece of cardboard too) to separate it from the bottom layer.
These pictures pretty much illustrate what I did, except that I scored the cake and eyeballed instead of measuring and using toothpicks.
2. Place the bottom layer cut-side up, on a cake plate. Spoon about half of the frosting onto the layer and spread it evenly to the edges.
3. Place the top layer, cut-side down, on top and press down to adhere. Spoon on about 1 cup of the frosting and spread it over the top and down the sides of the cake for the crumb coat.
4. Optional: Freeze or refrigerate the cake for a little bit to set the crumb coat. (~20-30 mins)
5. Spoon the remaining frosting on top of the cake and spread evenly across the top and down the sides.
6. If using carrot strips for decoration, blot strip gently to remove excess syrup. Coil the strips into little spirals and place them whimsically on the cake.