Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Carrot Cake

I made this carrot cake for Easter Sunday (yes, that means this post is 2 weeks overdue), and despite my fear that an eggshell had made its way into the batter (no one choked thankfully), it was a hit! Surprise surprise, this recipe came from Martha Stewart and is fairly simple to make despite needing to finely crush pecans for the batter. To be completely honest with myself, I'm not particularly good at icing cakes, and because cream cheese icing doesn't need to be iced on until perfectly smooth, it is ideal for those of use who have yet to take Cake Decorating 101. The border of pecans is a nice touch that doesn't require any special skills thankfully and helps distract from any imperfections (I'm pretty sure my cake was lopsided).

Forgive me for a moment, but before I go into the recipe, I am going to use my blog as a way to advertise for an exciting fundraiser I am helping organize.

I volunteer with Bright Beginnings Inc., and the 5K race I am working on to raise money for them is right around the corner on May 1 at Hains Point in DC! Please help support my efforts by registering to run/walk here . Online Registration is $25 and all proceeds go directly to Bright Beginnings Inc. You will receive a great T-Shirt, runners goody bag, and there will be raffles and prizes for the top 3 finishers in each age category!

Bright Beginnings is a free full-day preschool for homeless children ages 6 weeks to 5 years that provides a safe, nurturing, educational environment for these children in Washington, DC. BBI serves approximately 139 children from 88 homeless families across the District.

Thanks for your support and please spread the word!

Here is what you will need for the cake:
please ignore the fact that I did not include the carrots in this picture!

Step 1: Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.

Step 2: Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat 3 minutes.

Step 3: Add vanilla, water, and carrots. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture,

Step 4: Then add the finely chopped pecans (I think this is the secret to this recipe).

Step 5: Scrape batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes (It only took me 20 minutes in my oven--and I rotated my cakes after 10 minutes). Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen, and turn out cakes onto rack. Turn right side up, and let cool completely.

Step 6: Make the icing. Beat cream cheese and vanilla with a mixer on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add butter, beating until incorporated after each addition. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, and beat until fluffy and smooth. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days; bring to room temperature and stir well before using.

Step 6: Using a serrated knife, trim rounded top of 2 cakes (mine were kind of flat already, so I didn't need to trim them). Place one trimmed cake, cut side up, on a serving platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with second trimmed cake, cut side down. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with remaining cake. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides. Gently press coarsely chopped pecans onto sides of cake. Refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 1 day, covered) before serving.

Full list of ingredients for carrot cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
1 pound carrots (8 to 10 medium carrots), peeled and shredded on a box grater or in a food processor (about 2 3/4 cups)
1 cup finely chopped for batter
1 cup coarsely chopped for decorating sides of cake

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting:
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and brought to room temperature
2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted

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