Kitchen Lesson #36: do NOT break your own kitchen rules. Especially rules arrived at through much trial and error. This week’s recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie was Bill’s Big Carrot Cake, a three layer cake. For whatever reason, I cannot master the butter and flour method of preparing pans. Until I discovered parchment paper, I routinely lost many cake layers and despaired of ever making a “pretty” cake. So, what is the first thing I do when I start this cake? Yup. Skipped the parchment paper.
I had some kitchen help from Colin, my three year old, and all went swimmingly during the batter phase. We steeped the raisins in hot apple juice. I don’t know if it made a difference but I figured it couldn’t hurt. We skipped the nuts and coconut because, frankly, I don’t like them and I was the only one baking who could read. I didn’t have any lemons so I used some fresh squeezed orange juice for the frosting. The flavor combination worked really well.
I liked the look of the book’s illustration with frosting only on the tops of each layer. This look, however, presupposes that the layers themselves will be uniform and pleasing to the eye. Well, you can guess the outcome. Two of three layers refused to come out in one piece. Clearly, these layers need covering. I had planned to use some of the frosting to make this sort of abstract carrot on the top. Well, I needed it all and could have used more to frost the whole cake.
So, no “A” for presentation but it tasted fabulous! I can take or leave carrot cake and I may actually make this one again. Will, the 6 year old, said it was “too good for just one piece.” Alas, I think seeing all of the carrots scared Colin away from the cake. And the boy could use some carrots.
Next week: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake chosen by Caitlin of Engineer BakerBill’s Big Carrot Cake Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan 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.
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- Thought for Thursday