Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sweet Way with a Veggie

Sweetie loves carrot cake. We don't have it very often, probably in part because I prefer chocolate cake, but we will be having some tonight. He was such a trooper, practically perfect in fact, during the ups and downs of my recent illness, that he deserves a treat. This one even comes with some veggies and nuts, so it isn't too wicked...unless you add the addictive cream cheese frosting. I also made a mini, pictured here, as a birthday cake for a friend. Even birthdays you don't want to celebrate deserve cake.

This one is the one I found in Dorie Greenspan's modern classic book Baking, From my home to yours. I followed it nearly to the letter, the only changes being that I used 1/2 cup less sugar than the recipe calls for and I decreased the oil by 1/4 cup and replaced that with soft unsalted butter. The oily taste has always been one of the things I don't enjoy with traditional carrot cake, so a little butter helps. It also makes the cake a touch lighter in texture. This one doesn't have any pineapple in it, nor raisins, nor cranberries, just carrots, coconut and pecans. I did add a teaspoon of vanilla, too, again to mask some of the oily flavor.

It makes a gigantic three layer cake, or, as I did, two small mini cakes and one thick layer. It is firm enough to cut the layers in half so you can put icing between the halves and on top. I used my friend Lori's thirty year old cream cheese frosting which has a touch of sour cream in it for a nice zing. It goes really well with carrot cake (and is great with Red Velvet Cake if you are planning to make that for Valentine's Day...never too soon to plan sweet surprises!) and there is plenty. The icing, by some magic alchemy, really brings out the flavors of the carrots and the cinnamon. Well worth the calories.

On the health front, seeing doc tomorrow, which should be the end of it. Still tire easily and I take naps, which is very unusual for me, but feel blessed that all is well again in general.

Mostly Dorie Carrot Cake with Lori's Cream Cheese Icing

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9-10 carrots)(this is a good place to use organic carrots, if available)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup canola or safflower oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) softened butter
4 large eggs at room temperature

Butter and flour 3 9-inch cake pans or equivalent. Place oven racks to divide oven into thirds. Put cake pans on baking sheets, two to one sheet, one on another sheet. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In one bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In another bowl combine the grated carrots, chopped pecans and shredded coconut.

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the oil and butter together, then add the sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until barely combined. Gently mix in the carrot mixture. Divide the batter into the prepared pans.

Bake in the preheated oven for 40 - 50 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. When done, a thin knife inserted in the center will come out clean.

Place cakes on a cooling rack and cool 5 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the pans and unmold them. Invert so tops of cakes are right side up and cool on cooling rack.

Make the Cream Cheese Icing (recipe below). Place 1/3 of the icing between each layer and the final third on the top, swirling the icing so its thick by the edges of the cake (which means you will be able to see some of the icing between the layers). Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to set the frosting. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Serves 8 - 10.

For mini cakes, I baked some of the batter in a small 5" (I think, but could have been 4 or 4 1/2 inch) springform pan. Once the cake was cool, I split it horizontally. The bottom layer went on the plate, then some icing, which I swirled out to the edges, then the top layer and more icing on top. Since it was for a birthday, I added some heart shaped decor candies, silver balls and a candle. Party!

Lori's Cream Cheese Icing
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened

12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter, cream cheese, sour cream and vanilla together until fluffy. Then mix in gradually
the powdered sugar. Start with 2 cups and add to desired texture and taste by ¼ cup at a time.

Spread between layers, and on top of cake.


  1. What cute little hearts on the cake!

    Oooh! I adore carrot cake with cream cheese icing. Have you tried making the cake with grated beets instead of carrots? It works beautifully.

    Disappointingly, the cake doesn't turn out brilliantly red though. It looks more like chocolate cake.

  2. Yum!

    We don't have it frequently, and it's so easy for it to go wrong (usually it's too oily & dense). But when it's done right ... tasty!

    Glad you're getting better!

  3. Elizabeth, I've eaten the chocolate cake with beets but never made it...sounds like a good one to try.

    David, this one isn't dense or too oily & could be less oily with a little more of the oil replaced with butter. Feeling better each day & thanks for the good wishes.

    Charlie, very true.