TWD: Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

lots of carrots

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 Baker

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
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.












16 responses to “TWD: Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

  1. Sure looks like your youngun enjoyed the cake! Great job!

  2. I hate it when I don’t follow my own kitchen rules, too! Mostly because I have no one to blame, but myself. 😉

    Your cake looks lovely, though, not to worry!

  3. Hee! My 4 year old isn’t so sure carrots belong in a cake either! Your cake looks delicious!

  4. I am a rule breaker in the kitchen too – which is probably why my mini madelines looked like whole chestnuts with their burnt selves! 🙂 That first picture needs to be blown up and displayed somewhere….priceless!

  5. Presentation is overrated! As long as it tastes good, right?

  6. Looks wonderful! Glad your 6 year old liked it!

  7. aawww your little boy is adorable! What a great helper aka batter licker. The picture of him looking at the top of the carrot mound is hilarious. Lovely cake. Great job!
    Clara @ I♥food4thought

  8. I love that first picture. Your son reminds me of my son when he was that age (he’s an old man now at almost-6). Nice job!

  9. The “secret” ingredient is zucchini. I sub it for 1/3 to 1/2 of the carrots. Works every time.

  10. “Too good for just one slice!” Love it! Too bad things didn’t come out exactly as you had hoped. I am sure it tasted wonderful.

  11. How cute – my 8 year old didn’t like the looks of the carrots either – but my 10 year old liked it! But then again, she likes carrots to begin with!!

  12. That’s a huge pile of grated carrots! Cute pic.

  13. Darling photos and charming blog entry…you are too funny! I had a smallish helper too–but his main job IS reading…the recipe to me and checking that we carefully follow directions. Enjoy those boys before they can prove you wrong by pointing to entries in various reference books!

  14. Those photos are adorable.

    I think they key to successful buttering/flouring is to make sure you smear every corner of the pan with full-fat butter (I cut a pat from a stick and just use my hands). Then knock the flour around until you see that it has got into all the corners and up the sides. It’s a messy process, to be certain. I tried the baker’s spray once and, as far as I can tell, it’s a sham.

    My problem with cakes is turning them out without breaking them! I suppose I do not have a delicate touch…

  15. LOL at the comments about the boys needing carrots… I have a Will too and he always needs more veggies and less cake! It looks yummy and I love the stuff about the parchment and keeping your own rules!

  16. How cute! Someone really liked the batter!

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