Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Last week was my Father-in-Law's Birthday. He loves carrot cake and for the last several years, this is the recipe for the cake I've made for him. It's a purist's carrot cake: no nuts, no raisins, no pineapple, no coconut. Carrot cake, pure and simple. And, after trying a lot of carrot cakes over the years, I have to say this one is my favorite. Another plus is that it is the only carrot cake I've ever tried that doesn't feel greasy or heavy. Thank you, Alton Brown, your cake recipe is a winner! This would make a really lovely addition to your Easter (or another Springtime celebration). Also, for a really impressive presentation (and serious, cake-eating crowd), double your cake and frosting recipes for a two-layered mammoth of a carrot cake.
makes one 9 inch cake
12 oz carrots, peeled and grated, medium grate (approx. 6 medium carrots)
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
6 ounces (2/3 cup) plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces (2/3 cup) vegetable oil
cream cheese frosting, recipe follows
Butter and flour a 9 inch cake or spring form pan and line with parchment or waxed paper cut to fit in the bottom. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor (which by the way is a lovely way to grate the carrots if you happen to have one), combine flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pulse for about 5 seconds to combine thoroughly. If you do not have a food processor (and had to painstakingly grate those carrots by hand), just stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the carrots and toss flour mixture and carrots together until carrots are coated with the flour mixture.
In the bowl of the food processor (or in a blender if you didn't have the food processor--they really are great kitchen tools, though!), combine the sugars, eggs, yogurt and vanilla extract. With the processor or blender running, slowly drizzle in oil. If you are really unfortunate and have neither food processor nor blender, combine all the wet ingredients in a bowl, mixing well. Then, slowly drizzle in oil mixing continuously. The important thing here is to get a good emulsion (where the oil is incorporated into the other ingredients--think like shaking up a salad dressing). That will get you an ungreasy carrot cake. Pour this mixture into the carrot mixture and stir just until combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes. Then, lower oven temperature to 325 degrees for another 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Turn cake out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake is completely cooled.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8 oz. package Reduced Fat cream cheese (or regular, I just was trying to cut back where I could), softened to room temperature
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
With an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until well combined. Mix in vanilla extract. Slowly add powdered sugar in small increments (about 1/2 cup at a time), beating after each addition. Beat until smooth and fluffy. Allow frosting to chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes before frosting the cake.
*Also, some helpful frosting tips: a cold cake is easier to frost than a room temperature one. Wrap your cake in plastic wrap and freeze overnight or chill in the fridge beforehand.
If desired, you can just generously frost the top of a carrot cake for a rustic appearance. For a more polished look, frost the entire cake. For easiest results, frost a chilled cake with a very thin layer of the frosting (a "Crumb Coat") to ensure you don't get all kinds of crumbs in your frosting. Chill crumb coated cake in the fridge for at least 10 minutes and then cover with additional, thicker layer of frosting for a finished cake.
Recipe heavily adapted from Alton Brown's Carrot Cake