Thursday, October 29, 2009

Carrot Cake with FROSTING

Lately I've had a hankering to make frosting and I don't know why exactly. It started when I was back in Toronto- I made a chocolate birthday cake with chocolate frosting- the inside frosting was flavoured with orange liquer, and the outside frosting was flavoured with chocolate-coffee liquer. It was delicious, and frankly, so boozy that I'm lucky it was served as dessert after a heavy meal!

My first week back home I was asked to make dessert for ten. I knew that I could probably make cookies, or even a cake, but what I really wanted to make was a FROSTED cake. One with layers and swirls of icing all around. Now I'm not quite advanced enough to make some of the beautiful cakes I've seen on blogs lately- with syrups, and flavoured creams and frostings with different flavours and textures.... but I can be safely relied upon to make a decent cake with great vanilla icing. And who doesn't love carrot cake, really? The end result looked beautiful, with chocolate curls and all, but was a bit too sweet for my taste. Next time I would either go for cream cheese frosting (which is what the original recipe calls for- see below), or a lemon-flavoured frosting to cut the sweetness a bit.

I still haven't satisfied my frosting craving yet- I'm thinking about making iced cupcakes for dessert tomorrow (banana chocolate with chocolate icing, or chocolate with chocolate mint icing?) and I'm even considering making my own birthday cake- it's on Saturday- so I can play around with icing sugar a bit more. I will let you know when this crazy has passed.

Carrot Cake
1 cup oil
2 c (9 oz) flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
2 1/2 c (8 3/4 oz) lightly packed, finely grated carrots
2 c (scant) light brown sugar
3/4 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c raisins
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 Lightly oil and flour the sides of two 9x2 inch round cake pans, tapping out any excess flour. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment.

In a medium bowl whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. In a large bowl with a hand mixer or with a stand mixer (I did this by hand) mix the oil, eggs, carrots, brown sugar, walnuts, raisins (I left the walnuts and raisins out), and vanilla on medium speed until well-blended, about one minute. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just blended, about thirty seconds. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

Bake until the tops spring back when lightly pressed and a cake tester inserted into the centers come out clean (28-30 mins).

Let cool in the pans on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans to loosen the cakes, invert them onto the rack, remove the pans and carefully peel away the parchment. Set the cakes aside to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Frosting
The original recipe for this cake calls for a vanilla-cream cheese frosting, but because I was making it after a meat meal I decided to keep the frosting pareve (non-dairy). I made my frosting by creaming about 1/2 c of margarine with about a pound of icing sugar, 2-3 tsps of vanilla extract, a pinch of salt and a few teaspoons of ice water. Adjust the icing sugar-water ratio until the right consistency is reached.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 lb cream cheese, softened
12 oz (1 1/2 c) unsalted butter, softened
1 lb (4 cups) confectioners' sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 table salt

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter with the mixer on medium speed until very smooth and creamy, about one minute. Add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat on medium high until blended and fluffy, about two minutes. Cover the frosting and set aside at room temp until the layers are completely cool.

Assemble the cake
Carefully set one cake upside down on a large, flat serving plate. Using a metal spatula, evenly spread about 1 1/2 c of the frosting over the top of the cake. Top with the remaining cake layer, upside down. Spread a thin layer (about 1/3 cup) of frosting over the entire cake to seal in any crumbs and fill in any gaps between layers. Refrigerate until the frosting is cold and firm, about twenty minutes. Spread the entire cake with the remaining frosting.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours, or up to two days. The cake is best served slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Holiday Food and Back from Vacay

I just returned from Toronto. Every time I return to Israel I am amazed by the stark contrast between Canada and Israel. Everything from the culture, to the weather to temperament is different. When I left Toronto it was Fall- and it was freezing. Every day that I went outside and froze I cursed myself for not bringing boots. Funny though- all the Torontonians seemed to think that it wasn't boot weather yet. Seems like I've become too used to the heat; I wouldn't be able to handle a Canadian winter anymore! It feels like summer hasn't ended here. It is thirty degrees every day, and the only indication that seasons are starting to change is the slight drop in temperature at night.

I didn't have much time to post while I was away; helping to prepare for the Jewish Holidays of Sukkot, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana took up most of my kitchen time. The one thing that stayed comsistent throughout my trip was challah- always there for every holiday or Shabbat meal, I made at least twenty for the holidays. So here- a new challah recipe for my first post back.
recipe from Uncommonly Kosher, from Rebecca Spirn
  • 13-14 c. four
  • 4 pkgs. dry yeast
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 c. warm water
  • 1 c. oil
  • 2 T salt
  • 1 heaping c. sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten, for glaze
  • Poppy or sesame seeds
Dissolve yeast in water that is between 95-105 degrees (fahrenheit). When dissolved, add sugar, salt and half the flour; mix well. Add eggs and oil and then slowly stir in most of the remaining flour. Dough will become quite thick. Until kneading stage, dough can be mixed in a Mix Master. When dough pulls away from sides of the bowl, turn onto floured board and knead for approximately 10 minutes. Add only enough additional flour to make dough manageable. Knead until dough has acquired a life of its own; it should be smooth and elastic, springing back when pressed lightly with fingertip. Place dough into a large, oiled bowl. Turn it over so that the top with be oiled as well. Cover with a damp towel and let it rise in a warm place for 2 hours, punching down in four or five places every 20 minutes. Shape loaves and place into well greased bread pans or onto greased cookie sheets. Allow to rise again until doubled in bulk. Brush tops with beaten eggs mixed with a little sugar. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds, if desired. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Makes 9 large challahs (one for good luck).