Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TWD: Bill's Big Carrot Cake

It's Tuesdays with Dorie time again, and time to make up for my absense the past 2 weeks!

When I saw that this week's recipe was for Billy's Big Carrot Cake, chosen by Amanda of Slow Like Honey, I was instantly excited! I used to hate, I mean hate carrot cake when I was younger. I honestly don't know why. I think it's probably because I hated vegetables and the thought of carrots in my cake did not sound appealing. On top of that, I didn't like cream cheese for awhile when I was younger either.

For some reason, in the past few years, I've found a new appreciation for carrot cake. While it wouldn't be my first choice off of a dessert menu at a restaurant, it might be my second choice and when it's available as a dessert if we are say, at a party, etc. I certainly don't pass on it. I love how moist carrot cake typically is without being so rich you feel your arteries clogging after your third bite. After all, those carrots count towards your daily veggie intake, right?

Long story short, our friend Matt asked us over for dinner on Sunday night and requested that we bring dessert. I didn't have to think twice of what dessert would be - the latest TWD recipe of course!

I made this in 2 pans instead of 3 as the recipe called for because I only had 2 round cake pans! It worked out fine, I obviously had to increase the cooking time, it took about 52 minutes total in my oven. I took Dorie's option of adding coconut to the middle frosting layers of the cake because one can never have too much coconut! My only complaint is that I realy didn't feel there was enough of frosting for the recipe. I know Dorie suggests just frosting the top and middle layers of the cake, but I just thought it looked too bare, plus, it gave me flashbacks to a birthday cake my Dad and I made my Mom when I was about 6 (that's a story for another day!). Next time, I would probably make at least 1.5 times the frosting recipe to get a little more coverage. In fact I would have done so, if I'd had another block of cream cheese at home, but I did. For the top I added toasted walnuts and coconut to "prettify" it.

This was fantastic, very moist and chock full of raisins, coconut and nuts! Our friends enjoyed it too! I will definitely make this again. Thanks, Dorie!

Bill's Big Carrot Cake
(Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)

Yields 10 servings

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.

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.


Engineer Baker said...

You can never have too much frosting... :-P

CRS said...

It looks great!

Bumblebutton said...

Pretty pretty! Great job, and there is always the option of DOUBLING the frosting recipe!

Jayne said...

Very nice! And you're right about the frosting. That seems to be a common opinion.

Kate said...

I LOVE carrot cake, but I only frost the top and middle of mine also, the frosting's too rich for me otherwise.

rebekka said...

Great job, yum! I definitely had to almost TRIPLE the frosting recipe to have enough!

Carrie said...

I ended up just icing the top and middle. I think I would agree with you on increasing it to at least 1.5 to ice the whole thing! :)

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I think your cake looks great! I'm sure your friends were glad that they invited you over! ;-)

Marie said...

I think your cake looks wonderful! Way to go!

Mary said...

your cake looks beautiful and i'd say you more than made up for your absence=)

Annemarie said...

There is no such thing as too much frosting! You have lucky friends!!

CB said...

I am all about frosting so I agree that doubling up isn't a bad idea! LOL
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Memaw's memories said...

I never met a carrot cake I didn't eat.

Your recipe sounds great.

cheri said...

I like the nuts on the top! Great idea.

LyB said...

The frosting was the best part of the cake! Yours looks wonderful!

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Lovely cake ! Frosting is so smooth and professional looking.

KN said...

Of course carrot cake counts as veggies! In fact, I might have another piece…oh, wait. It's all gone. :D It looks great! Love the walnuts!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Great job! Glad you have a new found "like" for carrot cake.

MrsBethorama said...

Fabulous looking cake!

Donna said...

Yes, double frosting! I really don't think these beautiful cookbooks tell us the whole story! And our desserts never come out looking like the pictures!