A carrot cake just in time for Easter! Perfect for all those little Easter bunnies in your life. It's also wonderful for a birthday cake or . . . a wedding cake (!?)
Ask anyone who got married in 1981 about their wedding cake, and there's a good chance they'll answer "carrot cake." We were no different. At the end of our wedding reception the bakery boxed up the top layer for us to freeze and save for our first anniversary, but after a 12 hour drive through 100-degree weather it seemed unwise to preserve the unrefrigerated cake top for another day much less a year. So it ended up in the bin, but it lived on fondly in our memories (and photos).
We have enjoyed carrot cake on many occasions in the intervening 28 years - it remains my husband's very favorite kind of cake. My standby recipe is a carrot bundt cake with cream cheese glaze, so I haven't baked a carrot layer cake in quite a long time (truth be told, I'm not sure I ever have.)
The TWD group chose Bill's Big Carrot Cake last April, long before I joined the group. No matter; it was only a question of time until I baked this recipe. My husband's birthday last Friday presented the perfect opportunity.
- As much as I would have loved to have baked a big 3 layer confection, we didn't need the vast quantity of cake that this recipe produces. So I made half recipe, which fit nicely in two 8" cake pans.
- I made a bunch of small adjustments to the recipe, some to improve the nutritional profile and others to reflect our flavor and texture preferences. Scroll down to see my adapted ingredient list for this recipe. For Dorie's recipe, with full directions, click here.
- I added some freshly grated nutmeg and a tiny pinch of cloves
- added 1/2 mashed banana
- I cut the amount of sugar (3/4 cup for half recipe) and used brown sugar instead of white sugar
- I heaped the measure of raisins, and macerated them in hot rum.
- I subbed half the flour for King Arthur white whole wheat, and the rest was all-purpose.
- Mild olive oil works well in a cake like this, and has the benefits of monounsaturated fat.
- Rather than chopped nuts, I toasted the pecans and then ground them coarsely in the food processor
- I used low fat cream cheese in the frosting and cut quantity of lemon juice in half.
My daughter J.D.E was home last week, and celebrated her dad's birthday with us (and had an early celebration of her own birthday, which was yesterday!) Reactions to this cake were unanimously positive.
J.D.E: "Dorie really knows what she's doing."
Husband Jim: "It's killer. At a minimum." The birthday boy absolutely loved this cake, savoring every mouthful over the course of 3 or 4 days
I sampled a few tiny bites for reporting purposes (It's annoying that the birthdays of half my family fall during Lent nearly every year). The cake was nice and moist, not too sugary. The spices were present, but mild, so they didn't distract from the cake's carrot-y goodness. There was just the slightest hint of the banana and the coconut.
The frosting was a perfect complement to the cake - creamy, smooth, and mellow; just what I love in a cream cheese frosting. Not too tangy, not too cream cheese-y, and not too sweet. Just right.
Bill's Half-Size Carrot Cake,
here are the ingredients I used, adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe. For the directions, click here.
For the cake:
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon,
pinch each of freshly grated nutmeg and ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 4 carrots, grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade)
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened), chopped fine in a food processor
1/4 cup (heaping) moist, plump golden raisins, macerated in 1/4 cup hot rum and drained
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup mild olive oil
2 large eggs
1/2 mashed banana (about 1/3 cup)
For the frosting:
4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Finely chopped toasted pecans for garnish