Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Delicious Carrot Cake

There is a very funny story about me that very few people know. Growing up, I hated my birthday. I hated people coming over, I hated the attention, and most of all, I HATED CAKE! Every year until I was about 10 years old, I would hide in my room and cry when friends and family came over to celebrate my birthday. I can't exactly put my finger on where this craziness stemmed from, but I'm happy to report that those days are long behind me...sort of. The residuals left behind from those years still include my strong dislike for cake. I know, I know. But EVERYBODY loves cake! Right?..Right?
There's just something about birthday cake that makes my skin crawl. Although cakes are beautifully presented, it's what's on the inside that gets to me. The thought of extra airy and crumbly cake paired with a super whipped creamy topping is enough to make me lose my entire appetite.
But I promise I'm not a lost cause! I still love cupcakes with frosting and other sweet treats. 
And nothing quite beats my love for carrot cake. There is something about the taste of carrot cake and the texture of the delicious cream cheese frosting that makes it very very difficult for me to say no.

This recipe takes a little bit of time, preparation, and organization, but with some good old TLC, you can dive into a delicious slice that is sure to impress the crowd. Hey, who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?

Let's begin!

Before you start, here are some things you'll need:
  • Two 8-inch or 9-inch round cakepans (I bought mine at Target!)
  • Parchment paper (you can also use wax paper but I'd suggest sticking to parchment)
  • A pencil
  • Clean scissors 
Start by preheating your  oven to 350 degrees. Next, line your cakepans with parchment paper. I like to just place the rounds on a large square piece of parchment paper, outline it with a pencil, and cut it to place inside the pans. You can also lightly grease and sprinkle some flour in the cakepans and around the inner walls so that nothing sticks. Set your prepped pans aside for now.


Dry Mixture

In a large bowl, whisk together:
  • 2 cups flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Set dry mixture aside. 

Wet Mixture
  • 3 large eggs (cute faces optional)
  • 2 cups sugar (not pictured)
  • 3/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cups buttermilk (not pictured)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrots (about 2-3 large whole carrots)
  • 1 (8oz)can crushed pineapple (drained)
  • 4oz flaked, unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (save money by buying whole pecans and chopping yourself!)
Tip: I like to use dry buttermilk (I found this at Target as well but I've seen it at all the other grocery stores) since it doesn't spoil as quickly as the wet stuff.  If you do choose to use dry buttermilk, substitute the above amount with 3 tablespoons dry buttermilk plus 3/4 cup water. There's a handy conversion table on the container itself when you buy it.

  • Using your mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, buttermilk, and vanilla at medium speed until you have a smooth consistency.
  • Next, add your dry mixture in, 1 cup at a time, and continue to beat at low speed until everything is blended.
  • Finally, using a spoon, fold in your grated carrots, chopped pecans, drained pineapple, and flaked coconuts.

  •  Pour your mixture in equal amounts into your previously prepped cake rounds. 
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. 
  • After about 25 minutes, insert a wooden toothpick in the cake. If the batter is still wet, bake for another 5 minutes. Keep doing this until the toothpick comes out clean.

Tip: I bake for about 15 minutes then rotate their positions in the oven and continue baking the remainder of the time.  

When your cakes are almost ready to come out, start preparing your Buttermilk Glaze. In a small pot, bring following ingredients to a boil over medium heat:
  •  1/4 cup butter (melt a little before adding the rest of the ingredients)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or 1 Tablespoon dry buttermilk plus 3/4 cup water)
Stir often for 4 -5 minutes until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tip: Don't overdo this step because your sugar will start to caramelize and eventually burn. Keep the pot off heat once everything is mixed in. It might change color, but don't worry. As long as the consistency remains smooth and fluid, it's all good.

When your cakes are ready, drizzle the buttermilk glaze evenly. 

Use a spoon to evenly spread and cover the tops.

Let them cool in the pans for 15-20 minutes.

After the cakes cool a little in the round pans, carefully flip them over onto cooling racks, remove parchment paper, and let them cool COMPLETELY. 
This can take more than an hour...

In the meantime, there are lots of dishes to be done and yummy cream cheese frosting to be made!

 Cream Cheese Frosting

You will need:
  • 3/4 cups butter, softened
  • 11oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar 
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
Beat the butter and cream cheese together at medium speed until the mixture is creamy. Then add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth.

Tip: It is very VERY important to use powdered sugar and not regular sugar here. The powdered sugar will hold everything together and give the frosting that somewhat harder texture. If your cakes are still cooling, put your frosting in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

After your cakes have completely cooled on the cooling racks, you can begin frosting!
Line the presentation plate with some parchment paper and frost the first layer.

Then flip the second cake on top.

Continue to frost and smooth out the cake until you feel it's perfect. Remove the parchment paper and you're left with a clean presentation.

If you have any leftover frosting, add some food coloring and decorate any way you like!

Tip: Refrigerate the cake for a few hours (or overnight) before serving just so everything is held together nicely.


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