I have been watching for months now as every Tuesday my Google Reader fills up with bakers who have made a new recipe out of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.
I finally decided to purchase the very large cookbook and add it to my collection. I sent out the email requesting to join in on the fun. I can't tell you how excited I am to have jumped on this bandwagon. I had so much fun making this week's recipe.
I was excited when the recipe for this week was posted because Jake and I both love carrot cake. I had just recently made one for Easter and loved it so I curious to compare the two. The carrot cake I made for Easter was fabulous. I honestly don't think I can pick between the two. Dorie's cake had a lot of substance in it besides the carrots it had nuts, coconut and cranberries; not to mention lemon in the frosting. The whole combination of textures and flavors was just amazing. I wasn't extremely challenged with this recipe but I know a few of my fellow bakers had trouble with the cupcakes sinking but mine didn't sink at all. I don't know what I did different.
I was, however, challenge by flavors. At first I made the frosting without the lemon flavoring. Neither Jake or I like it. I got done mixing it and felt like it was missing something. I actually had a lemon in the fridge hoping to use my new microplane on it. I finally decided to just put the lemon juice in. Since I was sending these cupcakes with Jake to his rehearsal if I tried and didn't like it, hopefully, someone would and they wouldn't go to waste. I LOVED it, I couldn't stop tasting it. I had to force myself (and Jake, who also loved the lemon frosting) to stop eating the cupcakes so there was enough for Jake to take to his rehearsal.
Bill's Big Carrot Cake
Photo: my kitchen
Yields 10 servings (24 cupcakes)
For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (I used pecans)
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) (I used sweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries (I used crasins)
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract (I used the juice from 1 fresh lemon)
½ cup shredded coconut (optional) (I omitted)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional) (I omitted)
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another. (I decided to make cupcakes-so I lined 2 pans will cupcake liners.)
To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.
Bake for 40-50 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. (I baked my cupcakes at 325 for 20-25 minutes.)
The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.
To make the frosting:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, 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 lemon juice or extract.
If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.
To assemble the cake:
Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.
Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.
This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it's good plain, it's even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.
The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it's firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.