Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Keith's CarrotCake Special

For Keith's birthday he always requests a carrot cake. For the first time I have found the time to make his carrot cake from scratch. So often we are overwhelmed with daily life that I'd never have the time to get his cake made. Not that I never intended to make his cake from scratch, in fact every year that's the plan, I get excited about making it. And every year something happens and I end up getting a box mix and that awful tub of prepared frosting, or I just buy one from the grocery bakery. He loves the cake no matter what, that's the kind of carrot cake fanatic he is, but, it's just not right for him to get skipped year after year. That is why I was determined to get his cake made the proper way, with real carrots freshly shredded and baked into a fragrant spiced cake. The cake was easy to make coming together quite nicely. My only road block was the frosting. With the warmness of the day (it was wicked hot today) the frosting was all melty. I should have let the frosting chill a bit longer before I frosted the cake. If I were able to spare the time I would have waited until the frosting was more firm, it is a must if presentation is important. This is definitely a keep in the fridge cake, especially on warm days. Despite the sort of melted look about the cake it looked fine. We put enough candles on it to nearly set off the smoke alarm and the birthday guy loved it. Even the little ones ate the cake and that is something.

Carrot Cake
6 medium carrots
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. King Arthur cake enhancer (optional)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
*3/4 cup chopped pecans
*1/2 cup raisins

*optional add ins based on your taste.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, set aside.

Wash and peel 6 medium carrots. Grate the carrots using a food processor (medium grate), or cheese grater set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cake enhancer (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt whisk thoroughly and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine oil, vanilla and sugars. Beat at medium speed until well-blended. Add allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add eggs one at a time. Reduce speed to low add grated carrots. Beat until well moistened. Add half of the flour mixture and blend. Add buttermilk allowing to blend then add remaining flour mixture. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine. If using add nuts and raisins, mixing until just combined

Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40-50 minutes. 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. Note: if baking with nuts or raisins take extra care when handling so as to not cause the cake to crack as these cakes with add ins are prone to do while still warm.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese
4 Tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter on medium just until blended. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the speed on low, add the powdered sugar in 4 batches and beat until smooth between each addition. Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using.

Cake Filling
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon confectioner's sugar

4 ounces mascarpone cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
3 Tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

In a medium bowl combine the heavy whipping cream and sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Place bowl in fridge. In another medium bowl beat together the mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Fold whipped cream into cheese mixture.

Set one cake layer on stand, tuck squares of parchment paper underneath the cake. Make sure the parchment paper covers the edges of the stand so that it will collect the excess frosting. Place cake filling on top of the layer and spread to edges. (This should be a generous amount of filling, you may not need it all.) Gently add the second cake layer and adjust as needed to center it. Take the cream cheese frosting from the fridge and begin to frost the cake, starting with the top. Carefully spread over top of cake with gentle pressure to prevent crumbs from being pulled into the frosting. Using the spatula spread frosting along sides of cake, again being careful not to pull up crumbs. Reserve remaining frosting for touch ups. Chill cake for an hour. If you are embellishing the cake do so now. Chill again. Before serving carefully remove the parchment paper. Keep remaining cake refrigerated.

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