Have I mentioned my love for America’s Test Kitchen already? Yes? Oh. Well, I’m going to be a broken record then because they are AMAZING. If you’re looking for a great basic baking cookbook, I highly recommend Baking Illustrated. It has tested recipes for breads, pizzas, cookies and cakes. Every recipe I’ve tried from it has turned out really well, and from what I read on other food blogs, most people feel the same way. That’s my two cents on that.
I never thought I liked carrot cake until I had some while we were in Barbados. I guess I was a bit turned off by the idea of carrot in a cake, especially when there are already so many delicious (I’m mainly talking about chocolate here) other cake recipes. Regardless, I tried it, liked it, and decided I must make one for Easter Sunday. The only change I made to the cake recipe was subbing some buttermilk for oil, but I think I would just go for all oil next time. I left the recipe below as stated in Baking Illustrated. I did make an extra 1/2 batch of cream cheese frosting because I didn’t want to run short when I was decorating. Also, I made the cake into a 8 inch layer cake instead of the original 9×13 size. I think it’s a prettier presentation that way.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (makes one 8 or 9-inch layer cake or one 9 x 13 sheet cake)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 pound carrots peeled and grated (I used tiny cheese grater for this job but if you have a food processor, use the shredder disc)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans by spraying them lightly with baking spray (the kind with flour already in it). Cut out circles of parchment paper to lay inside the pans and give them a light spray as well.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Add carrots and mix with a spoon to combine. Set aside.
In a large bowl using a hand mixer, mix together sugars and eggs until combined and pale in color. Add oil and continue to mix until oil has incorporated into the eggs and sugar. Add dry ingredients and mix on the lowest speed until just combined. Divide batter equally between the two pans and bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pan for 2 hours. To remove, carefully run a paring knife around the perimeter of the cakes and invert onto a cooling rack or plate. Make sure the cake is completely cooled before frosting.
8 ounces cream cheese , softened but still cool
5 tablespoons unsalted butter softened, but still cool
1 Tbs sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
To make frosting, beat together cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until well combined. Add sour cream and vanilla. Slowly incorporate powdered sugar and mix until smooth and creamy. Decorate cake as desired.
To make the carrots on top I used a small round tip and tinted the frosting orange with liquid food coloring. To make the green leaves, I used a leaf tip (which obviously doesn’t even look like a leaf!) and tinted the frosting green with liquid food coloring. I covered the entire outside of the cake in pecan chips.
Recipe from Baking Illustrated