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 the frosting was all melty. I should have let the frosting chill a bit 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. This recipe is based off of Alton Brown's slightly altered.

Carrot Cake
6 medium carrots
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
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

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, butter and flour them. 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, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg whisk thoroughly and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine oil, vanilla and sugars. Beat at medium speed until well-blended, adding 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.

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. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.

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.) 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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