This may not be the perfect time to introduce you...
...but I'm going to do it anyway.
Please meet the most perfect,
THE Best carrot cake ...in the history of world…
(or at least in the history of my kitchen...which has quite a little history)
Somewhere in the midst of all the January resolutions,
...and heart-smart, healthful promises...
…someone is in need of a very special,
...even better than from a fancy bakery...even...
...rivaling the best dessert shops anywhere...
--a from scratch, masterpiece.
A cake baked with love --kind of cake…
Somewhere, someone must need a birthday cake…. Right??
Did I mention it was a prize-winning cake too?? It is.
It won the “big one”… --twice.
Is everyone still exercising??
…Good, I’m glad to hear it…
...because this cake might have a few calories…
….but this cake is absolutely worth taking an extra lap around the block…
And …Is everyone still eating their veggies??
I hope so…
…because as it turns out, this prize-winning carrot cake has both veggies and fruit in it….and some coconut too, which I am about to look up…I think it’s a nut…??
As it turns out… coconut is a fruit… bonus.
This cake is the perfect make-ahead dessert because it tastes so much better the next day…
It’s good the first day…but,
--Oh my, the second day… some kind of magic happens…
...all the flavors come together…the texture is perfect…
For all those who need some sweet relief…, or a birthday cake…or just want to keep it for future reference…
The recipe follows:
(And if you need to see HOW to make it with my BEST BAKING TIPS and baking pointers…keep reading below the recipe…
Prize-Winning Carrot Cake
Blue Ribbon Kitchen blog
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-I use Baker's Sweetened Angel Flaked-in the blue bag.
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.
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.
** For cupcakes, this recipe makes 36 cupcakes. Use cupcake liners, fill cups 3/4 full, bake for 17-19 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cream Cheese Frosting
(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.)
THE HOW TO:
Pre-heat the oven, 350 degrees. …It’s always a great place to start.
Cakes are always baked on the center rack of the oven…so look inside and if you need to adjust your racks. Adjust them before the oven is hot.
If you ever had a cake get over-done, or dried out…it might have been because the cake was baking too close to the heat…on a lower rack.
Prepare your pans. I like to spray pans, lay parchment in and give it a light spray once more...
Use parchment to line the bottom…
The cake might not come out of the pan if you try to skip the parchment...this cake has plenty of sticky goodness in it…
I took a photo of the pan just after I removed the cake…if the parchment paper was not in there…there is a pretty good chance that the little bit of sticking would have been a whole lot…
Good news… they sell pre-cut parchment rounds. If you can’t stand the thought of cutting out parchment rounds…consider picking some up… I do!
If cutting rounds out, old school style, simply lay the pan on the parchment paper, trace the pan shape and then cut. If you are new to parchment paper, it is usually found in the aisle at the grocery near the aluminum foil and plastic wraps.
Get your ingredients ready…
Toast the walnuts.
Wondering about toasted vs. raw nuts??
…toasting nuts for any recipe add tons of flavor and makes everything taste better…
If you don’t believe me… taste a walnut that is raw, un-toasted and then try one that has been lightly toasted for 7 minutes… the taste is dramatically different and often is the difference in baking competitions. Toast the nuts 5-7 minutes in a 350 oven. Let cool and then chop.
Carefully measure flour, spices and baking soda…set aside.
Measure sugar in a separate bowl. Set aside.
Did you know?? Baking is basically like chemistry…so if you measure correctly…your product will have at least half a chance of turning out amazing…. Adding too much or not enough, often spells disaster when baking… Don’t’ worry... You can do it!!
Measure buttermilk and oil. Set aside.
No buttermilk in the house?? Don’t worry.
I often don’t have buttermilk on hand either. A quick fix: using milk, (whole and 2% work best for this trick)… Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice OR vinegar… It sours the milk and gives you faux buttermilk in a pinch.
What kind of oil should you use?? Great question!! Vegetable or canola oil is a great choice because those oils are flavorless…meaning they don’t impart any unusual flavors that some other oils (like olive oil) might.
TIP: Twice grated carrots: Peel carrots. Grate carrots. I like to use this grater attachment on my food processor.
Once through, it yields grated carrot, but the pieces are too large for a cake…
Add the blade and give the carrots a second chopping, until the carrot pieces are smaller…but not pulverized.
Why smaller grated carrot pieces?? The cakes only bake for 30 minutes… there is no way grated carrot can soften up to a nice consistency in just 30 minutes…so by making the grated carrot a little finer, the end result is smaller and softer carrots in the cake. Tip: I like to add the drained pineapple and coconut to the grated carrot and give the food processor a quick pulse and then I only have to combine once.
Beat eggs, oil and sugar with the electric mixer.
Add the flour mixture, a little at a time. Stopping to scrape down the sides once. Stop mixing once the flour is incorporated.
Fold in the carrots, pineapple and coconut. Add nuts if using.
Pour into prepared pans.
These are my new cake pans from Santa... they are Nordic Ware non-stick 9-inch cake pans. I liked them very much, nice deep sides and they baked evenly.
Bake 30 minutes.
Remove cakes from the very warm pans after 10 minutes. Remove parchment paper and let cool. Do not let the cakes cool with the parchment paper left on...
Frosting the cakes:
Add frosting in between each cake layer.
Give the cake a crumb coat… lightly frost the whole cake. Then put the cake in the refrigerator for about an hour… go relax… letting the cake firm up in the refrigerator makes the final frosting much easier.
After an hour of cooling down the frosting acts like a glue holding the cake together better… which helps the layers to not slide around and you will be able to add the nuts without the cake falling off the plate…
Finish the cake with a final frosting and coat the sides with chopped toasted nuts.
To add nuts, hold the cake at a slight angle over a rimmed baking sheet that has the chopped nuts waiting. Gently press the nuts onto the sides of the cake. Nuts that do not adhere to the cake will fall back onto the baking sheet. Repeat and rotate the cake until the sides of the cake are coated with chopped nuts.
(As you can see..in the above photo...I ran out of cake rounds to rest the cake on for icing...I used an upside down stack of paper plates to get the job done... so classy...
I know... just keeping it real. Necessity is the mother of invention!
PS... if you were not sure what the "big one" was... it is a two-time Best of Show fair winner.
-- That's big!
-- That's big!
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Wow us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style
Wow us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style