9/22/2014

THE BEST CARROT CAKE... EVER.

Hi there! I hope you had a good weekend! I made a great cake this weekend. And I ate a big piece of it, so that is one good thing I have to report from the last two days. So I had this goal over the weekend to not spend money on anything other than food (from the grocery store) and shelter (paying household bills). No purchases of clothing, decor for the house, or anything extra was allowed. My bank account needed a little breather... So to make sure I didn't get bored (because I shop more when I'm bored), I decided to bake a cake. Baking a good cake, especially one I've never made before, is usually a two-day process for me. So I figured that would be a good option...

I love a lot of different desserts and carrot cakes are one of them. They have this warm flavor about them that is complex and incredibly satisfying at the same time. They can be made in so many different ways - with or without pineapples, raisins, coconut, maple syrup, etc... This is the first time I've ever made a carrot cake and I chose a recipe that had some of everything. This is Ina Garden's recipe and it is DELISH! I was honestly skeptical about including pineapples in the cake, but they do add this amazing sweetness and freshness to the cake. The cake is incredibly moist, the frosting is amazing, and the coconut shavings on top are the prettiest garnish that add a nice crunch. It's really the best carrot cake I've ever had. I could see myself making this again for Thanksgiving and/or holiday parties that will commence in t-minus 2 months. So excited!

Here is what you need and what to do:

The Cake:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + 1 tablespoon, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 pound carrots, finely grated
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
Shaved unsweetened coconut, for garnish

The Frosting:

2 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners sugar

To make the cake...

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 8x3 in round cake pans (I use and LOVE these). An 8x2 in pan would work, but higher sides ensures that most cakes won't spill over as it rises. I speak from experience... Anyway, line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the pans.

2. Add the sugar, oil, and eggs to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until the mixture is light yellow - about a minute. Add the vanilla and beat again.

3. In another bowl, sift 2 1/2 cups of flour, the cinnamon, the baking soda, and salt.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 batches. Add the raisins, walnuts, and 1 tablespoon of flour to a small bowl and stir. Fold in the raisin mixture into the batter. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Mix well.

5. Divid the batter equally amongst the cake pans. Bake for anywhere between 30 and 55 minutes. I know that is a strange bake time, but per my experience and the reviews of the original recipe, the bake time can vary that much. The original recipe says to bake the cakes for 55 minutes, but it only took about 40 for my cakes to bake. So start checking your cakes around 30 minutes. Your nose will tell you when they are done. You will also know when they are done when they start pulling away from the sides of the pans and when a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.

6. Set the cake pans on top of a wire rack and allow them the cool completely in the pan. If you are making the cakes a day ahead (like I did), store them in a cake holder that has a lid. You can also wrap them in plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge overnight.

To make the frosting...

1. Add the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla to an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat until combined, about a minute. Add the confectioners sugar in 3 batches and beat until well combined.

2. Place one layer of the cake, flat side up, on a cake pedestal. Frost the top of the layer with about 3/4 cup of the frosting using a knife or an offset spatula. Place the second layer on top, round side up. Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and the sides of the cake.

3. Top the cake with the shaved coconut.

Enjoy!

Images by me

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