It's Tuesday again! I know I said it before, but last Tuesday was just 4 days ago! How does this happen so quickly each week? Is it me? Or am I just too busy baking Carrot Cake, Lemon Cream Tarts, Gooey Chocolate Cakes, Raisin Brioche, Caramel Flan and Homemade Marshmallows? I'm pooped and splattered with frosting, but everyone loves me, and that's all that matters! Or is it all the goodies they love?
This week, Amanda from slow like honey chose Bill's Big Carrot Cake for the dessert of the week. Make sure to come back next week when we'll all make Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake. Check out all the other Carrot Cake entries over at Tuesdays With Dorie.
The Little Mixer That Could! He Can't Even Reach The Bowl!
Homemade Sourdough Carrot Cake
I've been making Carrot Cake for over 30 years now. Oh, my gosh! I just realized how old that made me sound! Ignore what I just said and make believe I was bragging that I had lots of baking experience instead! Anyway...Let's just say, I've made my share of cakes over the years. The Carrot Cake of choice with my family and bakery customers has always been my Sourdough Carrot Cake. I used to keep a 5 gallon bucket of sourdough starter going at all times. No, that wasn't a typo. During the busy season, we kept TWO 5 gallon buckets fermenting in the cooler. We used it and fed it and kept it happy. It was many, many years old when it finally passed away and we let it rest in peace. I still use the same recipe, but now I make it with buttermilk instead. Poor sourdough.
It's not mine. Will I like It?
When this assignment came up last week, I thought, I don't want to make someone else's Carrot Cake! It will never be as good as the one I've been making all these years. John won't like it and I probably won't either. You see,I've never put raisins, coconut, pineapple or nuts inside my Carrot Cake. Ever! I like my Carrot Cake pure and unadulterated! I decorate the outsides of my cakes with nuts and coconut just in case someone doesn't like them. That way, it can be easily scraped off on the side of the plate.
Dorie's Carrot Cake had all these things (no pineapple) inside. Yuk! But I was determined to give it a shot and see. After all, I've liked all her previous recipes! I compromised and used raisins and coconut, but refused to put nuts in the cake.
This is John's Hairy Arm, Not Mine!
WOW! Moist Carrot Cake!
The batter was extremely heavy even without the nuts, and I was worried it wouldn't rise. It did rise a little, only to sink when it came out of the oven. I'll tell you one thing though...it sure was moist! It made a batch of 24 regular sized cupcakes. I made a different batch for 2 thick layers.
The frosting was way too thin for my liking. I'm used to thick frosting that will stand up to a heavy cake layers. I fixed the problem by adding more powdered sugar. I had to refrigerate it a little while so I could pipe it with a pastry bag and tip.
Isn't this beautiful? John decorated it! I think I'll Keep Him!
Decorating Carrot Cakes
I decorated some of the cupcakes with basketweave, a small border and a dainty rosebud on the top. Some of the other cupcakes got iced tops and sides and rolled in toasted coconut, topped with a rosette of cream cheese frosting and a cherry on top! The remainder of the cupcakes got a good swirl of frosting and sugared & toasted almond slices on top.
The cake layers were frozen first (that's a secret most bakers don't know about) then iced. We freeze all our cake layers overnight. It makes it so much easier to frost and there's less chance of ripping up cake crumbs into the frosting.
Then John put it on a cardboard cake circle and iced the cake, smoothing with an off-set spatula as he turned it around to get all sides. He patted the sides with chopped walnuts and sprinkled the top with toasted coconut. We have this nifty tool that lightly scores the cakes into perfect slices. It's a piece of cake ~ Ha Ha! ~ to measure out the rosettes on top.
I rate Bill's Big Carrot Cake a 4 out of 5. The batter was easy to put together and I discovered that I did like some raisins and coconut inside my cupcakes after all! I'd probably make the cupcakes again, but in all honesty, my recipe is more to my liking for a layer cake. (Stands up better.) Maybe you can't teach an old dog new tricks after all.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
- 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
- ½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 4 large eggs
Ingredients For the frosting:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
- ½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
- Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another. My Notes: I used two 9x2 inch pans.
To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. My Notes: Because I used two pans, the layers needed longer in the oven ~ about 60-70 minutes.
The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.
To make the frosting:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract. If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.
To assemble the cake:
Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.
My Notes: You can see how I decorated two layers. Frosting in between, and frost the entire cake. Pat chopped walnuts around the outside and sprinkle nuts or toasted coconut on top.
Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.
This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it's good plain, it's even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.
The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it's firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.