Carrot-y Goodness! (Carrot mixture with walnuts and coconut)
This past week’s Tuesday’s With Dorie selection was by Amanda of the blog entitled slow like honey. She chose Bill’s Big Carrot Cake on pages 253-255 of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours. A good challenge to my mom’s carrot cake recipe, I was looking forward to it.
I decided to try this out on Thursday’s night after craving a snack that was something other than honey wheat pretzels. So while watching “The First 48,” Carlo helped me by grating the carrots, while I prepared the other ingredients. I diverted slightly from the recipe for the cake by using halving the sugar and substituting Splenda Baking Blend. I also omitted the raisins/cranberries, since Carlo isn’t supposed to have dried fruit. For the icing, I made confectioner’s sugar from granulated Splenda and cornstarch combined in the food processor. I also mixed a little regular confectioner’s sugar into with Carlo’s okay.
I didn’t feel like making a cake. So I made cupcakes instead and cut the baking time (The recipe yields 24 cupcakes). Since my oven runs warmer than normal, I cut the time by half and then subtracted about 5 minutes. When done, Carlo and I let them cool slightly to try them warm. They were good. However, when they were completely cooled, it was more delicious and so moist!
Then it was time for the frosting! My favorite part. I frosted the cupcakes with the cream cheese frosting, using Dorie’s recipe. it was very good. I then topped 1/2 of the cupcakes with grated carrots shaped in small balls. The other half was topped with a chopped walnut piece. Carlo and I think they all turned out great.
Carlo couldn’t help himself and te about 3 of them on his own that night. He kept saying that more of the flavor came out when the cupcakes were cooled in the refrigerator. However, sometimes I couldn’t figure out how he would say that, because he kept running to “taste” them.
Overall, the cake recipe is very good. However, it doesn’t beat mom’s. It seems that something was missing from the cakes (other than the cranberries/raisins – mom never used them in her recipe). I’m not sure what it is, since mom has yet to share that recipe with it. Nevertheless, Dorie’s carrot cake was still very good. Since Carlo’s never had my mom’s carrot cake, he said the recipe was spot on.
Below is the recipe for the cake. Just remember to make the cupcakes, you need to cut the baking time in half.
Bill’s Big Carrot Cake
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Yields 10 servings
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)
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.
This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it’s good plain, it’s even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.
The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it’s firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.