Who knew that the L.A. Times Food Section would have such yummy recipes?! Once a week, the L.A. Times comes out with a Food Section. My husband takes the paper in the morning with him to work and I never see it again (except for on the weekends when its all over the place....sports section on the living room floor or coffee table. Calendar section on the kitchen table and the rest on a chair somewhere.) I don't like to read the newspaper. (I feel so uneducated and uninformed admitting that). But I'd rather watch the news. I dunno, maybe its cuz I have a thing about my fingers turning black or something (it even bugs me when I'm reading a new book and that happens). Anyways...I asked my husband to start bringing home the Food section for me and boy am I glad I did! This is the second recipe from this section that I've tried and both have been a huge success. In case your wondering, the first recipe I did was Lemon Blueberry Buckle...OH EM GEEE!!!! It really was fabulous!
Sooo....this time I made Carrot Cake. I think I've made one once before (not including the times I've made it from a box mix) but I don't remember anything about it that "wowed" me other than what a pain in the ass it is to shred all those carrots! (we'll talk about that in a bit) But this recipe really is something worth remembering. The cake came out moist and light just like it promised to (imagine that!!). The flavor was subtle without being too sweet. And do I even have to sell you on the frosting? I didn't think so...haha...that shit is good and seriously it's worth the effort. The store bought stuff is good and all, but homemade is easy and you get to lick the bowl!
This is gonna be a long one. There are several (yet simple) steps so just hang there. I know you can do it. If I can...anyone can! Trust me. You're talkin to a blonde here!
Carrot Cake Ingredients:
2 cups sugar, divided in half
3/4 cup vegetable oil
9 oz bread flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
1/3 cup raisins (or currents)
Want to know what surprised me the most? The flour! I've never seen a cake recipe that called for bread flour. Not sure what the whole "scientific" reasoning is for that but I can easily find out if I need to. I have access to BakeSpaces own version of Alton Brown...a.k.a. Culinary Alchemist.
oh...and the carrots. Ya, they're still a pain in the ass. I haven't figured out how to do that in a lickity split way. I tried my mandolin but that just made these cute little fancy slices. My arm gets waaaay too tired using the old basic shredder. Besides, the carrot pieces are too big and I refuse to use that really small stupid side of the grater that you can't clean unless you use a toothpick and poke every single little whole. WTF? I have a 4 sided grater that only gets used on 2 sides. Soooo....I used the mandolin to get the carrots sliced (you could probably use the wide section of a grater if you don't have the luxury of a large food processor), then I put a handful at a time in my mini food processor so the pieces would be small and cook nicely.
Enough of my rambling, lets get this show on the road already. (when you were a kid, did your parents every say..."We're off like a herd of turtles!")
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 - 8" pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper (highly recommended! Buy it at your grocery store. You'll thank me later for it). Then grease the parchment paper and set the pans aside while you start putting all those ingredients together.
Oh ya...I was gonna take a picture with the cake pans on the stove and show the temp that the oven was set at...thought it would be a nice touch. Umm...then I noticed how badly the digital face on my stove needed to be cleaned So, just like any good housewife, I grabbed my sponge and started scrubbing away. Next thing I new, the sponge and disappeared!!! It flipped out of my hand and over the backside of the stove and well...there it lies....on the floor, behind my stove. Beginning its new job of gathering dust. Crap.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (which I don't have) or in a bowl with a regular hand mixer (which I do have), whip the eggs and 1 cup of sugar until the mixture is thick and light (ribbon stage), which takes about 5 minutes.
Ok, I have to admit here that I had no idea what "ribbon stage" meant. I googled it and then looked at an image. I don't think I fully achieved this stage but I think it was close enough. Besides, my daughter was trying to watch some movie about girls and a sisterhood with jeans. oh ya...traveling pants something or other, and the mixer was making a lot of noise.
Then....with the mixer running, pour in the vegetable oil to incorporate it. Continue whipping (errr..mixing in my case) until light and fluffy, about another 5 minutes (daughter is fuming by now...gee darn.)
In a large separate bowl whisk together (with a little hand whisker thingy) the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and the remaining 1 cup of sugar.
Now...using that same whisker, add half of the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, gently whisk just to combine.....
Ya...thats what I got...some glob of a thing in the middle of my whisker. I wonder...is that what was suppose to happen? Did I misjudge the 1/2 measurement? Oh well...never fear...shake it out and continue.
Add the remaining egg mixture and whisk just to combine. Be careful not to over-mix or the cake won't rise properly. Its looking better at this point but I guess I didn't get a photo and can't prove it Really it does!! I swear!
Gently fold the carrots and raisins into the batter with a spatula just until incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between your cake pans....
Bake both pans on the same rack (not sure why but I did it) in the center of your oven for about 30 - 40 minutes, rotating halfway through for even cooking:
I think my hot pad messed up the batter on the one of the left when I rotated them....what? It could've been worse! The whole pad could've flopped over the top of the cake!
Do the "clean toothpick" test to make sure its done....
Yep...might be a little blurry but that toothpick is clean! Not a crumb on it. Beep, Beep, Beep....cake is done!
Cool on a rack before removing from the pan. Once removed, don't forget to take off the parchment paper. That would be a real bummer.
Whew...I'm whooped. But lets keep going. It's time to make that frosting!! Woo hooo!!
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
1 cup cold butter, cubed (2 sticks)
1 pound cream cheese, cubed
5 cups powdered sugar (just under 1 1/2 pounds)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (here we go again...I just had my simple hand held mixer), cream the butter until light and smooth (3 - 5 minutes). Add the cream cheese and continue mixing until smooth. Make sure you scrape the sides. You don't wanna leave anything behind.
Mix the powdered sugar in. Umm...I'd use a spatula to do that. Otherwise you'll end up with powdered sugar in places it doesn't belong.
Add your vanilla....
Oops...I think I spilled a little more in there than just a teaspoon...gee darn!
Now mix it real well with your hand mixer until nice and smooth....can you almost taste it?
Frost your cake and chill slightly before serving to allow the frosting to thicken. I have to admit this here and now....I totally suck at frosting cakes. I never learned how...and I don't really have the patience. I end up with crumbs all over the place. So I decided to shred some carrots and sprinkle them on top to hide my lameness....But like I always say...its the flavor that counts!
Want a slice?