Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

This delicious carrot cake was made for my principal’s 50th birthday. Yup, I had the privilege of baking the cake for a very important person’s milestone birthday. Talk about pressure! As per usual, I discovered the recipe on Brown Eyed Baker around Thanksgiving. Her cake fell apart and she made it into a trifle, which impressed me beyond belief. Prior to that, Erin made a carrot cake for Dan (my brother-in-law) back in October, but she said she wasn’t impressed with the recipe. So, when I offered to bake this birthday cake, I knew it had to be perfect. If successful, this would be a recipe I would use for a long time to come.

In theory, a cake with three cups of grated carrots sounds like it could be a start towards a healthy dessert. Then you read the recipe, realize that I made 1½ times the frosting from the original recipe, and were back to a sweet, delicious, calorie-filled cake. The sheer amount of frosting that I slathered onto this cake was impressive. However, the three layers of cake did not agree and they were sliding all over the place. It was like a leaning tower of carrot cake and cream cheese frosting. I had to put it in the fridge to firm up a bit before I could add the finishing touches.

Before I go any further, I need to admit that I am a bit of a hypocrite. If you recall, I have mentioned that I am not big on decorating cakes. Of course I want it to look nice and be something you want to eat, but I don’t need it to look professional and store bought. I tell people all the time that I want my treats to feel like something mom made you, which is why I decorate very simply. :) So, how does that make me a hypocrite today? Well, the pressure of making this cake made me realize that I probably needed to step up my game when it comes to decorating. I purchased some decorating tips and frosting bags so that I could do just that. I got fancy with some piping on the edges and went overboard with stars on top. Sadly, I was watching a Sharks game while trying to frost the cake, so I was pretty distracted. It’s a good thing they won because otherwise I’d have no reason for the odd assortments of stars on top of the cake. Oh well, it was delicious and I don’t think anyone really noticed the additional piping.

As for the actual cake, I adapted the original recipe just a bit. I didn’t use allspice, but I did add a bit of ground ginger. And, as always, I added vanilla extract because it complemented the spicy flavors from all of the spices in the cake. I hope you enjoy the cake…I know that everyone at school did!

Carrot 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
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
½ cup raisins
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
5¼ cups powdered sugar
1½ tablespoons vanilla extract

Position the racks in the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 °F. Line the bottom of three 9×2-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Put two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.
All the dry ingredients!

In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut and raisins.
All the chunky ingredients!

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar and oil together on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Add the vanilla.
Smooth and creamy.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix in the chunky ingredients.
First add in the flour mixture...

Then gently stir in the chunky ingredients until just mixed.

Don't worry about it being really soupy and runny; trust me, it will make a perfect cake!!

Divide the batter among the three baking pans. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean; the cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
3 layers of carrot cake perfection!!

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract until well-combined.
If that's not velvety smooth, then I don't know what is!

To assemble, stack the layers, spreading a generous amount of frosting between layers and then cover the top and sides. Garnish and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Slather on that delicious frosting in between each layer!!

Decorate to your heart's content!


Thanks for checking out another recipe!

<3 Buttercup

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