My love affair with carrot cake began during my sophomore year of college when I lived in my sorority house. Every night we had a different dessert, but my favorite was always the carrot cake. At the time, I was convinced it was the best thing I had ever tasted. Later I discovered it was just Sara Lee... Super gourmet.
That same year, I discovered this recipe and carrot cake and I made our relationship official.
So, as you can imagine, I was pretty psyched when my friend, Emma, requested carrot cake for her birthday baked good. I had such a great time decorating the cake that I think it ended up being more of a treat for me than it was for her.
With carrots, pecans and golden raisins, this cake is irresistible and the sweet, creamy frosting is the perfect complement. Not that I'm surprised, the recipe comes from Paula Deen, the queen of butter. The woman knows her stuff. Interestingly enough, there is no butter in the actual cake.
One tip: keep a close eye on the cake while it's baking and check it often to see if it's done. It's very fickle in terms of baking time. I've had trouble with under/overcooking pretty much every time I've made it.
|Happy Birthday, Emma!|
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups freshly grated carrots
1 1/2 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup golden raisins
8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
16-oz. box powdered sugar
Green, red and yellow food coloring
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Cut out circles of parchment paper and fit inside cake pans. Butter and set aside.
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and mix. Add vegetable oil and eggs and mix thoroughly. Mix in carrots, pecans and raisins.
Divide batter evenly between the two pans and bake cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Remove cakes from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the outside of each cake to separate it from the pan. Place a wire rack on top of each cake pan and flip so that the cakes come out of the pans and onto the wire racks. Jiggle each pan to loosen the cake. Remove parchment paper circles. Let cool completely before frosting.
While cakes are cooling, make the frosting. Combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip until smooth. Add vanilla and mix. Slowly incorporate powdered sugar, mixing between each addition. Occasionally wipe down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Place one cake on the platter or stand you plan to use. Using a serrated knife, level off the top of the cake so that it is flat (note: if your cake is already flat, disregard this step). Frost the top of the cake. This will be the frosting between your two layers, so add more or less depending on how much frosting you like.
Place the second cake on top of the first, making sure the two are properly aligned. Then, apply the crumb layer. After the crumb layer is dry, apply the smooth outside layer. Save some frosting for the decorative elements.
|For a 3D look, add more frosting in the center of the carrot than on the sides|
To decorate, place pecan halves around the base and the top of the cake. Combine a portion of the leftover icing with red and yellow food coloring to make orange frosting. Using a pastry bag or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off, pipe on four carrots facing the center of the cake. Combine another portion of the icing with green food coloring and pipe on the stems of the carrots. Crush pecans in a food processor and apply to the outside of the cake using your fingers and a spoon.
|Decorating this cake is time consuming, but it pays off!|
Source: adapted from Paula Deen's Kitchen Classics