I've been so busy lately that I've been neglecting my poor little blog. I already missed last month's "You Want Pies With That?" and sadly I couldn't get my act together to participate in this month's event either. I feel particularly bad about it since today is Pi(e) Day (as in 3.14). So I’d like to apologize to my fellow YWPWT participants. I will definitely get back to making pie next month.
I did manage to throw together this carrot cake though. Spring is right around the corner and spring reminds me of bunnies and bunnies eat carrots. So I guess you can say I've just had carrots on the brain lately and there was a bag of organic carrots in my refrigerator calling out to me. I used a recipe from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking From My Home to Yours" and tweaked it a little bit. I scaled her recipe down to make a shorter (two layer) cake instead of a taller (three layer) cake. Also, I replaced some of the granulated white sugar with brown sugar to add a bit of that molasses flavor, decreased the amount of cinnamon and added some orange zest. I really liked Dorie's addition of shredded coconut to the cake batter. I adapted a Martha recipe for the frosting. The addition of orange juice and zest to the frosting really brightens up the flavor of your typical cream cheese frosting and pairs nicely with the cake.
Everyone, including me, really liked the cake. It was moist and flavorful and not at all dense and the frosting was just sweet enough. I was a bit surprised with how many people said to me "I don't normally like carrot cake...but I love this one." My response to them was "I guess you don’t like bad carrot cake."
(Makes one 9-inch layer cake)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 1/4 cups grated carrots
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
2/3 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened or sweetened)
1/3 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter two 9x2-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat both sugars and oil together on medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add vanilla extract and orange zest and beat batter until batter is smooth.
On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix only until the dry ingredients barely disappear. On low speed, mix in the grated carrots. Then remove the bowl from the mixer and, by hand, gently mix in the nuts, coconut and dried cranberries.
Divide the batter evenly among the two prepared cake pans. Bake at 350F until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean and the cakes have just started to come away from the sides of the pans, about 35-45 minutes.
Allow cakes to cool in the pans about 10-15 minutes, and then run a thin knife or an offset spatula around the edges to loosen the cake form the pan. Invert cakes onto a cooling rack and peel off the parchment paper. Reinvert the cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
(enough to frost a 9-inch two layer cake)
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the orange zest and orange juice. Gradually add the confectioners' sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is smooth.