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.

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