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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Carrot Cake

I had a wonderful time making a carrot cake (as requested) for Amrita :-)

Mine, hers and her husband's birthdays are on consecutive days each a month apart and she being the head baker thought it would be a great tradition to bake each other cakes :-)

The six layers had a tangy lemon cream cheese frosting between them. The outside was covered in barely sweetened vanilla flavor whipped cream dots and decorated with dark chocolate curls on the top.
 Took me a while.. but I think I did good :-)

(serves: 10-12 ppl)
(assembly time: Took me several hours but I am a newbie)


3 cups hand shredded carrots (you could use already shredded carrots from a grocery store.. I find those to be stiff and dry)
2 1/2 cups All purpose flour
2 cups Cane sugar
2 tsp Baking powder
2 tsp Baking soda
3/4  Tbs Cinnamon powder (I used Saigon cinnamon from McCormick)
1/4 tsp Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp Sea salt
4 Large eggs (room temperature)
1 1/4 cup Canola oil (vegetable oil would work as well)
1 1/2 Tbs. Pure vanilla extract (I used vanilla extract from Spice Island)
1 cup Black California raisins *optional (Go for it... I just didn't have any)

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg) in a large bowl. Mix with a fork to make sure that all the ingredients are dispersed equally.

In a separate bowl whisk vanilla, oil and sugar for a few minutes and then start adding the eggs one at a time.

Now slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture in 3 or 4 batches and mix together slowly until the batter is well incorporated.

Fold in the carrots and raisins.

I wanted to make a multi layer tall cake. You could divide the batter into several bake pans. I didn't have that many pans nor the patience to bake 6 layers separately.

What I had was a 17" x 11" baking sheet so I used that. I divided the batter into two equals parts by weight.... poured one part into a prepared (sides oiled and dusted with flour. Bottom of the sheet pan lined with parchment paper) baking sheet and put it in the oven for 30 mins. The other part of the batter sat happily in the fridge until it was it's turn to bake. I just stirred it before baking it in a similar manner as above.

I cut the thin baked cake into three equal rectangles each approximately 5.5" x 10". So after two baking sessions I had 6 layers of cake... which was good enough for me :-)

Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz Cream cheese at room temp (I used 2 8oz Philadelphia cream cheese blocks)
8 oz unsalted butter at room temp (I used Lurpak butter)
2 cups Powdered sugar
2 Tbs Fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs Fresh lemon rind

Combined all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix using an electric whisk until the mixture looks well blended and creamy. This frosting is very soft at room temperature and therefore easier to use in between layers and to cover the cake. Placing it in the fridge hardens it significantly.

Stabilized Whipped Cream 

*Read last paragraph for vegetarians.

Stabilized whipped cream will hold its shape in desserts when piped on. This is excellent to use as a very light frosting on cakes.

1 cup heavy cream (I used cream from Golden Glen Creamery)
1 1/2 Tbs regular sugar
1 Tbs Pure vanilla (I used vanilla extract from Spice Island)

For stabilizing
1 rounded tsp Knox unflavored gelatin
2 Tbs warm water
3 Tbs room temp heavy cream

Pour some warm water in a small cup or bowl and mix in one rounded tsp of gelatin. Then microwave it for 20 secs and allow to set in the fridge this could take up to 15 mins.

After the gelatin in the fridge is set you can begin to whip the heavy cream. In a much larger bowl whisk together heavy cream, sugar and vanilla until medium peaks are formed.

Now you can add the gelatin to stabilize the whipped cream. To do so you will first have to microwave the set gelatin for 5 seconds until it's melted again and add some room temp cream to it. Add immediately to the whipped cream before the gelatin sets again. Continue to whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks are formed.

A fabulous YouTube video explains this process. I basically followed her method but made only a small batch of the gelatin. I haven't tried this but an alternative kosher would be to use piping gel as explained in this video. An interesting read for vegetarians on how to use agar agar powder for this.


Prepare the cake
Save at least a cup of cream cheese frosting to go outside the cake. The rest will be used as filling.

Place the first layer of cake on top of a cake base. I made mine by cutting out a 11" x 6" rectangle from foam core and covering it with aluminum foil. You can find foam core easily from a dollar store or an office supply or craft store.

Spread some cream cheese frosting on it and then place the next layer of cake on top of that. Kinda like making a multilayer sandwich. Repeat until your cake is built. The top most layer should be cake.

Now we need to do a crumb coat and try to make the edges straight with the frosting that you saved earlier. I used a butter knife to on the sides to fill in gaps and holes and then used a pastry scrapper to level the top, smooth out the edges and get somewhat sharp corners.

This doesn't have to perfect because it will get covered with whipped cream and chocolate curls. However if you are a perfectionist watch this demo.

Place the cake in the fridge for 30 mins so that the cream cheese frosting will harden.

Chocolate curls
3oz or more of your favorite dark chocolate bar melted (I used a Moonstruck 68% dark chocolate bar)

I spread a thin layer of melted chocolate on the back side of my baking sheet with a rubber spatula an offset spatula would be a better choice. Then I placed the sheet in the fridge for about 5 mins and used a pastry scrapper to make curls.

Here is an awesome video that demos the process. I love YouTube :-)

Whipped cream dots
I used a round Wilton tip #12 to make simple little polka dots around the cake.

You will need the following equipment to use the tip.
1- A coupler to hold the tip in place. Mine was from Wilton and the link explains how to use one.
2- Pastry or decorating bags. I got the 12 pack from Wilton.