Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TWD: Bill's Big Carrot Cake



Amanda of slow like honey picked Bill's Big Carrot Cake for this week's TWD, and for that I thank her. So very much. Granted, I tweaked this a bit since I don't like coconut and don't use butter in my cream cheese frosting, but I've been looking for a go-to carrot cake recipe. I love it - spicy, substantial, and even sorta "healthy!" How can you go wrong with that combo?


Of course, I can't help but tweak even more... I wasn't going to bring in another layer cake to work because people kept asking me why I was baking these things! So instead, I made cupcakes, which were just as easy and twice as cute. Who's going to question cupcakes? Satan? Nah, I don't even think that that red fella with the forked tail and horns would complain if cupcakes were to appear on his secretary's desk. That is, if he has a secretary...


Moving on! My coworkers loved these and I got raves from people who hated raisins because they weren't like little rocks in the cupcakes - I plumped them in boiling water so they practically melted into the rest of the cupcake. I used even more carrots, pecans, and raisins than was called for since I didn't put coconut in, so these were chock-full of tasty add-ins. Since I made cupcakes, I had to adjust the baking time - it ended up being ~25 minutes for regular sized and ~18 minutes for the minis. PS - the latter? Totally worth the time and effort due to their overwhelming cuteness and the ability to load cream cheese frosting on top. Yum!




Last week: Marshmallows

Next week: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake


Bill's Big Carrot Cake

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Yields 10 servings

Ingredients:

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

1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries

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

½ cup shredded coconut (optional)

Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:

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.

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.

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.

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.

Storing:

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.

41 comments:

Marie said...

Cute cupcake! I made the large version, but didn't eat it all together. That was too much cake for just the two of us, no matter how delicious it was!

Di said...

I love the mini cupcake--so cute! I'm working on a mini cake, but it's not done yet. (Fortunately I have the day off today.) I need to make the frosting, and put the cake together, but not until I've had my tea. =)

I hope your weekend was lots of fun and your run went well.

LyB said...

I love the mini cupcakes, the frosting to cake ratio is always perfect! And they're cute! :)

bakersbakery said...

Your cupcake is adorable!
Mine kind of sunk in the middle (just a bit)... I filled that part in with frosting. ;)

slush said...

OMG so stinkin cute!!! Fab job babe!

Rebecca of "Ezra Pound Cake" said...

Even Satan loves cupcakes. Adorable!

Rebecca
http://www.ezrapoundcake.com

CB said...

Only rock stars bake cupcakes. Obviously we are both rock stars! :)
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Oh the mini's are so cute! I wanted to do a few mini's too, but got carried away decorating my cake.

Bumblebutton said...

Yum! And your butterfly plate is charming. Maybe mini-cupcakes are the antidote to my sinking doughnut cupcakes!

Amy said...

Sooo cute! I love the dollop of frosting instead of it being completely covered in frosting. Awesome Job!

Katrina said...

The minis are adorable! I think I need to add a mini cupcake pan to my arsenal.

Caroline said...

Great looking cupcakes! How appropriate given your earlier on cupcake-themed accessories / things.

maplesugardesserts said...

NICE. I love the big blob of frosting, that's my favorite for cupcakes :)

crumblycookie said...

So cute! More frosting per cake is definitely a good thing.

Michelle H said...

Those look so cute! I love the plate too. :o)

Jayne said...

So cute! And I love the butterfly plate!

Lori said...

Nice Springtime presentation. Very dramatic. Great job.

Annemarie said...

Very cute!

PheMom said...

So cute! I love that you made regular and mini cupcakes - yum!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

carrot cake makes perfect cupckaes! and i love that big mound of frosting! looking forward to next week's dessert!!

Mary said...

what lucky coworkers you have! tweaking is fine with me and I'm so glad your turned out well...love the plate!

Melissa said...

Very cute. How do you make your frosting without butter?

Tammy said...

your cakes look great! I am a slowe starter this week and think I will do cupcakes too

Melissa said...

How cute! We were obviously thinking the same thing! BTW - I'm thrilled with your selection for this weeks TWD. Do you get fresh figs right now? I didn't think that they were in season until June or so. If I can't find them, what do you think would be a good replacement?

Erin said...

Your cupcakes are cute! I love to read about the ways you change up the recipe every week. Your coworkers must be really happy you joined this group!

Beeb said...

seriouslu cute! Seriously...

bakingwiththeboys said...

the minis are cute but I rarely have the patience to mess with them. I am looking forward to the recipe for next week.

slowlikehoney said...

I actually think that cupcakes are the devils treat. no joke. they are his specialty :)

KNut said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
K-Nut said...

Loving the mini cupcake!!

Liliana said...

Your mini cupcake looks adorable! I love the dallop of frosting. What a great idea!

Great choice for next week.

Ricotta, polenta and figs - I am in heaven!

annmartina said...

Your cupcakes are so cute. I'm getting excited to make the recipe you chose. It sounds really unique.

Mary said...

Great job! The cupcakes look so pretty and I'm glad you didn't have the sinking issue I did.

Jennifer said...

Very nice - and I love the way you frosted it!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Very cute cupcakes. How funny that they all wonder about your layer cakes! I am really excited about this next week's pick!

Peabody said...

So cute and tiny.

Dolores said...

Your mini cupcakes are great; I love the way you approached the frosting. Funny how coworkers respond... mine want to know if I'm sick if I go more than a few days *without* bringing in something baked.

cruisingkitty said...

Minis! I love it! Your frosting/icing looks absolutely perfect! What a great photo!
Donna

Jenny said...

Pretty little cupcakes, everyone's favorite. :-)

Jhianna said...

So cute! I should have cut my sunken layer cakes into pieces and done a torte or something!

Kayte said...

I love that this is Bill's Big Carrot Cake and you have this little mini muffin sitting on a plate...LOL...you are so funny! Your add-ins sound great...you DON'T like coconut? How can anyone NOT like coconut? Well, regardless, the little cake looks and sounds amazing and I am going there soon...with the big version as the guys around here will absolutely devour carrot cake when given the chance.