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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TWD: Bill's Big Carrot Cake


I love carrot cake. LOVE it. I remember my mom used to make it for my birthday (unless I requested ice cream cake). She must have make it from a box all those years, because finally, one year she made it from scratch and OH did I hear about it! She would NEVER grate that many carrots AGAIN.

I decided I wasn't up for grating carrots either, so I chopped them up a bit and threw them in this reeeaaaally mini food processor attachment that came with my immersion blender. I had 'grated' carrot in seconds.

I debated leaving out the raisins in this, because I don't really think they have a place in carrot cake, but ultimately I decided that I should give the whole recipe a chance, at least once! I used golden raisins (that I still had leftover from the apple-pie cake) so my cake didn't have random dark specs in it. Also, frosting it didn't go quite as planned. Dorie's fabulous photo shows a bare-sided cake, with a thick, luscious heap of frosting between each layer of cake. I was afraid of not having enough frosting (and apparently too lazy to measure) so when the second layer was plopped down, I realized I'd skimped to much. By the time I was done, I had enough left to frost the sides, so I did, but it wasn't quite thick enough.. blah blah blah, I stuck some coconut on there and called it a day.

Overall, this is one FABULOUS carrot cake - incredibly moist and SO tasty. Next time I probably will omit those raisins, and maybe give the pecans a try. I used walnuts this time and would love to see what pecans bring to the table.

Oh, and check out my review of Wilton's Bake Even Strips... I used them on these layers and they came out perfect!



Bill's Big Carrot Cake
Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
Chosen by Amanda of slow like honey
See more TWD bakers here!

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.

22 comments:

Engineer Baker said...

So pretty! I love the coconut on the sides!

slush said...

Gorgeous cake!

Jayne said...

Your cake is beautiful!! Really great job!

Re said...

Whoa, Baby. I love that first pic. Looks like you could take a nap in that cake. Huge! Beautiful job.

Rebecca said...

Doh! "Re" is me! ;)

Cecilia said...

Beautifully done! You're so courageous, making the full-fledged layered cake. I was lacking courage (and time) last night, so I went with cupcakes. I thought the cake turned out nicely, and the coconut hid the thin icing on the sides really well because I didn't notice anything.

Kate said...

I love grating veggies because it was always "my job" in the kitchen. And I think the extra bit of knuckle skin I add to the recipe gives it a little something special.

CB said...

Beautiful cake! Great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Heather said...

love the coconut on the sides! Looks great!

Mary said...

look at all the frosting! yum! great job!

annmartina said...

As pretty as Dorie's cake looked in her book, a cake should ALWAYS have frosting on the sides!!! I feel very strongly about this. So good job. It looks beautiful.

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

What a lovely job you did!

Chez US said...

So pretty, I love it!

Melissa said...

Beautiful! I don't think raisins belong in carrot cake either...but you were more daring than me in that you tried anyway!

amanda. said...

Yum! It's beautiful! When I made another Dorie cake a few weeks ago, I had the same frosting issue and ended up throwing coconut on the sides to cover it up too. :)

Annemarie said...

I think your pics look wonderful...as does your cake!!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Looks like a great cake! Hope everyone enjoyed it!

Shari said...

I love the coconut on the sides too. Gorgeous!

LyB said...

Very nice, the coconut makes it look all fluffy and light, it looks delicious!

Erin said...

Your layers came out so nice and even! What a beautiful cake!

Sharon said...

It looks very good. The cake layers look really even, which alot of people had issues with. *including me*

Donna said...

Love the close-up! Makes me wish I still had some cake left over!