Sunday, March 27, 2011

Carrot Cake, the very best I've ever had.

Well, this is one great cake.  It's a sturdy cake, meaning it can stand up to a day or two in the refrigerator without compromising the quality one bit.  I personally think it tastes better the next day which is an added bonus if you're trying to get a big meal pulled together for guests!!  Adding toasted nuts to the outside edge of the cake is nice touch... before you try this, chill the cake with frosting just between the layers... let it firm up....then after 30 minutes, bring the cake out, finish frosting it on the top and sides...then put on the nuts while the frosting is soft....but you'll have the added benefit and sturdiness of a semi-chilled cake to work with.  Trust me... it is ALWAYS better to go slow and take your time than to end up with a pile of cake!

I had some icing leftover...so I made some cute icing swirls with a decorating tip...It gives it that little extra something.

(As a rule of thumb, I would not normally put a good cake on a disposable tray...but at the fair, you have to follow the rules, and that's one of them-- disposable only!)

BTW, there are 5 cakes in the photo, all won blue ribbons, every single one....that's a story for another day.

Prize-Winning Carrot Cake

Blue Ribbon Kitchen blog 

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tiny pinch of ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
***
3 large eggs-room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk-room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
***
2 cups of finely grated carrot-  Food process once with a grater attachment and then a second time for finely grated carrot.
1 can (8 ounce) crushed pineapple, drained very well
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional) Toast nuts in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, cool and chop before adding to the cake. 

Instructions

Line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly grease/spray.  Set aside.

Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and tiny pinch of ground cloves.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk and vanilla, mixing together until combined and emulsified (smooth with no oily puddles).  Slowly add the flour mixture, stopping to scrape down the bowl.  Mix cake batter just until flour mixture is incorporated.

Fold in the grated carrot, pineapple, coconut and chopped nuts if using.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans.  

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cakes.

Let cakes rest on wire rack for 10 minutes.

Remove cakes from the very warm pans after 10 minutes AND remove and discard the parchment paper.  Let cool.

Once cakes are at room temperature, spread the frosting between the cake layers, on the sides and top of cake.  This is not the final coat, this is only the crumb-coat.

Chill cake in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes, then apply a final coating of the frosting, add nuts to the sides for garnish. 

Refrigerate cake overnight, up to 24 hours and then serve.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients
(I usually double this for a three-layer cake)

1 stick of softened butter (8 TBS)
1 brick of softened cream cheese (8 ounces)
3 cups of powdered sugar
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts

(If frosting is too thick, add 1 teaspoon of milk or cream at a time until desired consistency is reached.)

Once upon a time...

Once upon a time, in 2007, when my children were just little bitty things, I took a cake to the fair.  I had never baked this cake before or many cakes at all in my life, I had never tried this recipe, I had no idea if it even tasted good, it looked good...but who could know??  This cake (which was riding in style as you can see from the photo) ....won a First place, and a Best of Show ribbon.  That brush with success started it all, it began my love of baking, the satisfaction of finding great recipes and doing them well, the desire to do my best...and to win a few ribbons along the way.



This is the cake... The cake that started it all.
When I brought my German Chocolate cake to the fair in 2007... 
I gave it a ride into the fairgrounds, seat belted into 
the double-stroller where my toddlers would normally sit... 
We carefully pushed the cake and stroller through 
the grassy pasture-turned parking lot.  
The kids and I ...and the cake...we all made it 
safely to the art hall inside the fair... (It's such a fun memory)


In the last 4 years, I have won 32 First place blue ribbons, 5 Best of Show ribbons, and 1 Best of Show State Fair ribbon.  I was encouraged by a friend to try blogging...and I plan to share with you great recipes and tips that have served me well over the last several years.  I think EVERYONE deserves to eat great food.... and sharing what I have learned and what I love will hopefully inspire you to do the same.
Fast Forward to 2009, 
and here we are at the Ohio State Fair, 
winning a first place blue ribbon and
 the best-of show ribbon for a peach pie.

After all the winning... and the judges sampling, 
we found a picnic table and our family and had a slice of  the
prize-winning peach pie...
...the best pie in the whole state...  ;)

If you have never baked from scratch, don't worry!!  I hadn't either, and if I can do it, 
you certainly can too.