(Sorry for the photo quality – the lighting was not so great last night when I made this. I blame it on the snow.)
So, I subscribe to an organic veggie and fruit delivery. Every two weeks, a box (recyclable, of course) appears on my doorstep full of local, organic fruits and veggies. This past week, I received two full bags of carrots. What does one do with that many carrots, aside from feed them to rabbits? Why, carrot cake, of course!
So I went in search of the perfect carrot cake recipe. I found one by Alton Brown that I still want to try, because it included yogurt, which sounds healthy. However, I didn’t have any good yogurt, so I went with a recipe from Epicurious that promised to be the best I could find. I love Epicurious, so I figured I’d give it a shot. It turned out to be delicately sweet, deeply moist and truly decadent. I recommend!
Step one: Peel and grate a LOT OF CARROTS. 3 cups, to be exact. This, for me, was about 4 or 5 hefty carrots.
That’s a serious amount of carrots. Put them aside.
Combine 2 cups flour with 2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp salt. This cake turns out moist but not terribly fluffy, at least at high altitude. Next time, I will add at least a half cup more flour, but it still turned out really well, regardless. To the flour mixture add spices of your choice. The recipe calls for cinnamon, but I added nutmeg as well, and I just eyeballed these. I definitely put in more cinnamon than the recipe called for. Allspice would also be a nice addition. The recipe also calls for grated ginger, and since I didn’t have any, I added a dash of ground ginger. It really adds a nice touch. Mix the flour and additions till blended.
In a large bowl, add two cups sugar. To that, add 1 1/4 canola oil (I used vegetable).
I like action shots. 🙂 Blend well. Then, add 4 eggs, one at a time.
Add the flour mixture a little at a time. I usually add it 1/3 at a time, but since the flour mixture isn’t terribly large for this recipe, I added it 1/2 at a time.
The add the carrots, a little at a time. There were enough that splitting it into 3rds made sense.
Blend till carrot is evenly distributed. Pour the batter into two, 9 inch round cake pans, buttered and floured. I did not have 2 cake pans, just one larger cake pan, so I poured the whole thing in there. This means it took longer to cook, but it still worked well. Either way, put your pan(s) into a 350 degree oven for about 40 min (longer for just one pan).
In the meantime, make the maple cream cheese frosting. Regular cream cheese frosting would work, but the addition of the maple syrup really adds something extra to the whole result.
Take one package of regular cream cheese at room temperature and 5 tbsp butter, also at room temperature (unsalted!). Blend together until fluffy. I used a hand mixer. Add 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time and mix together till well blended. Then add 1/4 cup pure maple syrup.
(I’m mixing this on my stovetop because the ONLY outlet not taken up by the microwave is next to the oven. Because that makes any sense. That’s what happens when you live in a house built before electricity was common. There’s even a coal chute in the basement.)
Once the carrot cake it done, let it cool for at least 15 minutes. I know, I know, you want some NOW! But the frosting will melt into an obnoxious mess if you frost it too early. Patience is a virtue, my friend. Once frosted, slice and enjoy! It will amaze you.
Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cups canola oil
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups grated peeled carrots
- 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
- 10 ounces cream cheese (such as Philadelphia), room temperature
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Butter and flour paper; tap out excess flour. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, walnuts and ginger. Divide batter between prepared pans.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Peel off waxed paper; cool cakes completely.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until well blended. Beat in maple syrup. Chill until just firm enough to spread, 30 minutes.
Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread with 3/4 cup icing. Top with second layer. Spread remaining icing over entire cake. Arrange walnut halves around top edge. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.)