I'm much more inclined to pie than cake, but if there is one cake I do love, it's carrot cake - and lately I've had a hankering. Should I just try the Cook's Ill recipe, or is there a better one out there? I'm not too picky other than not wanting a moist cake that isn't a frosting bomb.
7 oz (200 g) wholemeal self-raising flour
3 level teaspoons mixed spice
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
6 oz (175 g) dark brown soft sugar, sifted
2 large eggs
5 fl oz (150 ml) sunflower oil
grated zest 1 orange
7 oz (200 g) carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
4 oz (110 g) sultanas
2 oz (50 g) desiccated coconut
2 oz (50 g) pecan nuts
For the syrup glaze:
juice 1 small orange
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 oz (75 g) dark brown soft sugar
For the topping:
1 x 250 g tub mascarpone
1 x 200g tub fromage frais, 8% fat
1 rounded tablespoon golden caster sugar
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
2oz (50 g) pecan nuts
You will also need 2 x 8 in (20 cm) sandwich tins, 1½ in ( 4 cm) deep, bases lined with baking parchment.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C), then turn it down to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) when you have toasted the pecan nuts.
First, place all the pecan nuts on a baking sheet and, using a timer, toast them in the oven for 8 minutes. Now chop one half roughly for the cake and the other more finely, for the topping later. Then don’t forget to turn the oven down to gas mark 3, 325°F (170°C) for the cake. To make the cake, whisk the sugar, eggs and oil together in a bowl with an electric hand whisk for 2-3 minutes, then check that there is no sugar left undissolved.
Now sift the flour, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl, tipping in the bits of bran left in the sieve. Then stir all this in gently, followed by the remaining cake ingredients. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared tins and bake the cakes on the centre shelf of the oven for about 30 minutes. They should be nicely risen, feel firm and springy to the touch when lightly pressed in the centre, and show signs of shrinking away from the sides of the tin. If not, give them another 2-3 minutes and test again. Meanwhile, make the topping by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Then cover with clingfilm and chill for 1-2 hours, until you are ready to ice the cakes.
To make the syrup glaze, whisk together the fruit juices and sugar in another bowl and then, when the cakes come out of the oven, stab them all over with a skewer and quickly spoon the syrup evenly over the hot cakes. Now leave them to one side to cool in their tins, during which time the syrup will be absorbed. Then, when the cakes are completely cold, remove them from the tins. Spread one-third of the filling over one of the cakes, place the other on top, then cover the top and sides with the remaining icing. Scatter the remaining toasted pecan nuts over the top.
Hands down, Ina Garten's classic carrot cake - has fresh diced pineapple, raisins and walnuts for excellent texture and taste. I usually cut each 8" cake into 2 so I can jam more of the cream cheese goodness inside. I find that it is super moist, but maybe on the sweet side. I usually reduce the sugar in the cake by 1/2 cups (originally it is 2 cups).
Maybe I'm biased, but I heart Ina.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Goodness!
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra-large eggs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 pound carrots, grated
3/4 cup diced fresh pineapple
For the frosting:
250 g cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper.
For the cake:
Using a whisk, beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in bowl until light yellow in color. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the bowl. Toss the raisins and walnuts (walnuts are optional) with 1 tbsp flour. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Add to the batter and mix well.
Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.
For the frosting:
Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.
Place 1 layer, flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake. Decorate with diced pineapple.
The Frog Commissary carrot cake recipe that Pitterpatter links to is indeed one of the most well-known and well-loved carrot cake recipes in the country. Some consider the pecan filling over the top deliciousness while others find it too sweet.
Another very popular recipe is The UCLA Medical Center Carrot Cake which uses butter instead of oil.
On my recent Easter Carrot Cake thread I also included a link to a discussion on carrot cake recipes:
Finally here other CH links with carrot cake recipes:
I think for my Easter Cake this year I am going to go with the UCLA recipe.
Also, in my opinion, a good carrot cake doesn't need icing. In a pinch I use a thin layer of buttercream, sometimes I just sprinkle powdered sugar on it, but often I just leave it plain. I find the cream cheese versions just too sweet and cloying... but to some that icing is de rigeur and makes the cake.
The filling in the Commissary Carrot Cake is, indeed, ridiculously sweet, which is why I recommend cutting back on the 10x sugar in the icing. Actually, while the recipe calls for 1 pound (4 cups), I use only 1/2 cup, so the icing is quite tart and offsets the filling.
Just as a side note: once I made a carrot cake wedding cake from this recipe -- 6 tiers to feed 300 people (very wealthy clients, who could have paid for any more expensive one). The bottom layer alone weighed 30 pounds. This cake could have generously fed well over 1,000. Even so, I baked off two full sheet trays for extra, "just in case." Later I learned that folks went into the kitchen and scraped every crumb from the empty pans. I guess they liked it.
I like Dorie Greenspan's from "Baking: From my home to yours." This version is very moist and not dense the way other carrot cakes can be and leans toward the sweeter side of things.
For a less sweet, more hearty carrot cake, I use a recipe from "The California Cookbook." I actually made this one yesterday (it has to sit for 24 hours) for my DH's birthday today. It uses pineapple and walnuts as well.
One fun variation that I got from my Mom, is to poke holes in the cakes after they are baked and drizzle some dark rum over each cake to soak in, then put a dash in the frosting along with vanilla extract. The rum really plays well with the dark flavors of carrot cake. I also like to finish with freshly grated carrots on top and chopped walnuts on the sides. Good luck!