Monday, January 5, 2009

The underated, under appreciated Carrot Cake

Last post from my beloved Texas trip - my nephew's birthday cake. As I mentioned before, we all looked at each other when he politely requested it for his birthday like, "Carrot Cake? What's wrong with this kid? What about chocolate or even a lemon cake?" But the laugh was on me when I nearly dove into it head-first, hours later, after dinner.

Maybe it's because I'm not a huge sweets person and the plethora of spices gave my mouth something to think about. Maybe it's because cream cheese frosting would taste good on a car tire. Or maybe I should just stop debating it all together, and accept the fact that carrot cake is my new part time lover.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

3 sticks, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temp
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Cream Cheese Icing:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup drained canned pineapple
1 cup shredded coconut, to press on the outside

rind of one orange, cut into long strips and twisted into 'curls', presented in a fan on top to make a star shape

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 3 (9-inch) cake pans with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the sugar, and beat. In a medium bowl or on a piece of parchment, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the eggs, beating well after the addition of each. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the carrots and beat on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Fold in the coconut and nuts. Divide between the 3 cake pans and bake until set and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest in the cake pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, remove from the pans, and let cool.

For the Frosting: In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating constantly. Add the vanilla and pineapple.

When the cake is cool, place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread the top with cream cheese frosting and top with a second and third cake layer, spreading the icing between each layer. Spread the icing around the sides of the cake, gently 'press' in shredded coconut, and let harden slightly before serving. Garnish with orange rind and cut into wedges, to serve.

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