I must reiterate, I am a horrible foodie. When my camera was murdered by my oldest son (yes, he stole it from my purse and dropped it several times until the shutters were stuck permanently open and you couldn’t adjust to make it focus), I didn’t buy a new one. I am soldiering onward with my horrible camera phone. Why? I want an SLR, but know that I’ll have to wait for Christmas and my Birthday (as they’re only a month apart) to try for that.
The downside of relying on a cameraphone is that when you get busy, you set down the phone and promptly forget about taking pictures.
For yesterday’s birthday party, I made a Carrot Cake (with Cream Cheese Frosting, naturally) and a side of roasted asparagus in a mustard vinaigrette to go with the dinner. The rest of dinner was a Honey-baked Ham, some boiled red potatoes that were tossed in butter and parsley, a lovely salad and rolls. Mmm, rolls.
Carrot cake. I made this last year for my husband’s grandmother’s birthday, as it’s her favorite cake. I recall swearing up a storm and vowing to not make the cake until I got a food processor and food scale. Then, I decided to make it again. Apparently I had forgotten what a pain it is to grate carrots on a box grater when you have no upper body strength.
Now, the recipe. This is a pretty straight forward recipe- which I’ll give you Alton Brown’s instructions for and then mine (since he uses a food processor, and I don’t).
Alton Brown’s directions call for a food processor- if you’re skipping that, you need a mixer and a few bowls. As well as a heavy duty spoon.
Unsalted butter for the pan
12 ounces, approximately 2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
12 ounces grated carrots, medium grate, approximately 6 medium
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/3 cups
2 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup firmly packed
3 large eggs
6 ounces plain yogurt
6 ounces vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (If you haven’t invested in one, buy an oven thermometer- quite often, ovens are a little off, and that really affects how your baked goods turn out)
Butter two 8 inch round and 2 inch deep cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper, and then flour the pan. (His instructions said to butter and flour then put the round in- but you need the butter for the parchment paper to stick to) Set aside.
Of course, before you preheat your oven you should peel and grate your carrots. If you’re doing this in a food processor, it’ll take no time at all- but if you’re doing it with a box grater, it’ll take some time. If you’re grating it yourself, you might want to put on some vinyl gloves- carrot juice can stain your nails.
Next, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spice and salt. (Or, you can whir it around in the food processor for 5 seconds) Add this with the carrots and toss until they’re coated with the flour. This might seem odd, but coating them in the flour will ensure that the carrots don’t sink down to the bottom of the batter.
In the bowl of the food processor combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt. Or, if you have a mixer, put the sugar, brown sugar, eggs and yogurt into your mixer bowl and get it cranking up to a medium speed. Make sure they’re mixed thoroughly.
Next, drizzle in your vegetable oil. What you’re doing is making an emulsion from your dry ingredients- so really, don’t just dump it all in.
Once it’s all combined, add the liquids to the carrots and stir with a nice heavy duty spoon until it’s just combined. Make sure you get into the bottom of the bowl because you’ll find floury bits- I promise.
Divide the batter between the two pans, and bake in the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the cake reaches 205 to 210 degrees in the center.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan. After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.
Cream Cheese frosting
10 ounces of cream cheese (1 1/2 packages)
3/4 stick of butter (3 oz, to be precise)
12 oz of powdered sugar (approx 3 cups)
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the cream cheese and butter (both should be at room temperature) until they’re well combined.
On low, add in the powdered sugar in four batches (this will ensure it’s well mixed and that you don’t find your kitchen covered in powdered sugar). Each time, beat until it’s smooth.
Refrigerate the frosting for 10-15 minutes before you frost the cake.
Frosting a cake is really easy. All you have to do is make sure you have even layers. Take a knife and make sure your layers are flat- that usually means you cut off the domed part of the cake. Enjoy the top of the cake (it’s the perk of baking). Put down your bottom layer, with the cooked side down. Place a nice big glob of icing on top of it, and smooth it out with an offset spatula or knife. Set your top layer, with the cut side down on top of the bottom layer. Dump more frosting on the top of the cake, and spread it out to the edges of the cake and down over the sides.
To make this cake look absolutely smashing, top with some chopped walnuts! And then put it in the fridge if you aren’t going to eat it right away- cream cheese frosting does not like warmth.
If there is any left over frosting, you can put it in a container and store it.