Monday, January 30, 2012

Carrot Cake

This post is by special request...  I was asked for a carrot cake recipe and realized that I had never made a carrot cake before!  I mentioned it to Alex who said he Loved carrot cake, so of course I had to make one right away.  Just to make sure I pass on a good recipe.  ;)

Carrot cake is not a universal favorite, I know.  It seems kind of weird to put a bunch of veggies in a cake.  On top of that I'm not usually a fan of cream cheese icing, which is typical for a carrot cake.  It can be heavy and cloying, I think.  But after making this cake; I'm a carrot cake convert.  It was so moist and delicious, and I even thought the icing was awesome.  It has a cream cheese flavor but it is not overwhelming or too heavy tasting.

This carrot cake has a ton of texture in it from the grated carrots and coconut.  If too much texture in a cake freaks you out,  I think you can safely leave out the coconut....but we liked it in.  This cake also has crushed pineapple in it, which sounded different to me but really worked well.  In fact, I'm not sure you'd know it was in there if someone didn't tell you but it does lend a nice sweetness and some more moisture.  The original recipe also calls for walnuts which I didn't add, simply because I didn't have any.  I really liked this cake without them but feel free to add them if you think you'd like them.

This is a pretty two layer cake, a great birthday cake and certainly a cake to remember come Easter.  My little boys loved it too and I didn't feel so bad giving them some because it has vegetables in it you know!  I hope you love it.

Carrot Cake, adapted from Elise at Simply Recipes
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 cups canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup drained crushed pineapple

Cream cheese icing
12 oz cream cheese (1 and a half packages), at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room tempterature
3 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons lemon juice

The first thing to do with this recipe is to get those grated carrots out of the way.  Hopefully you have a food processor with a grating disk on it!  If so just peel about 5 large carrots and push them on through the machine.  If not, you're going to have to break out that hand grater. :(

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Butter two 9 inch cakes pans and line the bottoms of each with a circle cut from wax paper.  This is to ensure the cake comes out of the pan!  Butter the tops of the wax paper too.  If you don't want to go through the trouble, just make sure you use non-stick pans and that they are thoroughly greased with butter.

Once that is done mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix together the eggs, oil and vanilla.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until combined.  Now you can stir in the the carrots, coconut, and pineapple.

Pour the batter into your two  pans and bake them for 45-50 minutes on the middle rack of the oven.   At about 25 minutes into the cooking time, rotate the pans so you know they are cooking evenly.

The cakes are done with a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in their pans for a few minutes before turning them out and letting them cool the rest of the way on a wire rack.

To make the icing put the cream cheese and butter into your mixer and beat until fluffy and combined.  Slowly add in the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.  Lastly add in the vanilla and lemon juice.  If the icing seems too thin, add some more sugar until you get the desired consistency.

Wait until the cakes are completely cooled before frosting them.  Then try to wait patiently until after dinner before digging in....enjoy!

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