Monday, August 6, 2012

My Favorite Carrot Cake Recipe

My friend, Jill, is making a carrot cake for her husband's birthday, and asked me if I had a good recipe, and of course, I do. Whenever I do a carrot cake for a wedding, this is the one I use, and I get nothing but rave reviews. The recipe also includes a White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing, but I prefer to use my favorite cream cheese icing recipe instead. Instead of baking this cake in 2 layers and then slicing them to fill, this cake is baked in 3 thin layers, and the filling is put in between without having to worry about cutting any cake. Also, instead of grating the carrots, I just throw them in the food processor and chop them...easy.

Kory's Carrot Cake
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
20 ounces carrots, finely chopped (about 3 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup crushed pineapple, well-drained
May add 1/2 cup raisins if desired

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing
1 1/2 lbs. cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups white chocolate chips, melted 
3/4 cup ( 1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
Chopped walnuts or pecans

To prepare cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom of three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Leave sides of pan dry-no cooking spray needed. Combine eggs and oil in a large mixing bowl. Beat 2 minutes with mixer on medium speed. Add 1 cup sugar and continue mixing 2 minutes. Add remaining sugar and mix 3 to 4 minutes. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg; add to egg mixture, beating on low speed until blended (about 1 minute). Add carrots, nuts, and pineapple; mix until well combined. Divide batter evenly among pans. Bake 60 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Run knife round edge of cakes and remove from pans. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

To prepare icing, place cream cheese in mixing bowl; beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add melted chocolate a little at a time, continuing to beat at medium speed. Add butter a little at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl; add lemon rind and beat until combined.

Remove cakes from refrigerator. Ice top of one layer. Place second layer on top; ice top. Place third layer on top; ice top and sides of cake. Press chopped nuts into sides of cake. Serves 20.

Tips from Cathy:

1.  For high altitude, I usually add an additional 1/4-1/2 cup flour.
2.  In my oven, I bake (3) 8 inch layers for approx. 40-42 minutes. Each oven is different, so keep checking it after about 40 minutes. If you bake it too long, it will turn out dry.
3.  If the cakes fall slightly in the center, push down around the sides while warm. 
4. Once I have the layers wrapped in plastic wrap, I like to stack all 3 layers together to refrigerate. It helps to level them out.
5.  If the layers are still slightly lower in the center, just level them out with lots of yummy cream cheese icing. Nobody will mind. I usually stack the bottom 2 layers with top sides up, and the final top layer with the bottom side up, to give the cake a more level top.
6.  For larger cakes:
1 1/2 batches=(3) 10 inch rounds. Bake for 50 minutes @ 350 degrees.
2 batches=(3) 12 inch rounds. Bake for 1 hour @ 350 degrees.
7. I like to add little icing carrots to the top of the cake, with a simple border (only on top because of the nuts). If I'm serving it at a wedding, sometimes I'll just add fleur-di-lis on top instead.

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