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Carrot Cake Two Ways

Carrot cake two ways.

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

One of the benefits of writing a blog that no one reads (yet!) is that you can post pretty much whatever you want and no one will be the wiser. Don’t have a great, chatty story behind a recipe? Make one up. I haven’t done that yet, FYI, but I was tempted with this carrot cake recipe. I’ve made it twice, once in a Bundt pan and once as a layer cake. The latter, being destined for a birthday party, looked like a white lump on the table. It’s hard to photograph a cake when you can’t take a slice out of it. Luckily for me, I’d made the same recipe in a Bundt pan a few months ago, and had never got around to posting it.

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

The other lucky thing? That cute anecdote I was worried I wouldn’t have – pshaw. No problem. The layer cake was made for my friend Ellen’s 81st birthday. She’s someone about whom you can say “81 years young” without rolling your eyes. In fact, we stuck the numbers on the cake backwards and celebrated her sixty-third 18th birthday instead. I’m pretty sure her schedule is about twice as crazy as mine. I love her entire family – they’ve basically adopted me – and I inflict my baking experiments on her daughter every week when we get together to mine for gems at the local St. Vinnie’s. (For the record, she’s much better at it than I am. I find broken plates; she finds Ming vases.)

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible Gigi – Ellen’s daughter – bought her a new CD player and wrapped up a CD of relaxing meditation music, which pretty much sums up Ellen’s life. We’re all tugging at her to slow down and take a break, but she has paintings to finish and art lessons to give to kids. She drives a cerulean-blue hatchback with “Department of Peace” stickers on the back and wears “Ban the Bag” and “End Discrimination” pins on her purple jacket. She’s the kind of person the Red Hat Society – the group of older ladies that takes its cue from the Jenny Joseph poem that vows, in part, that “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple / With a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me” – would love to get its paws on. Trouble is, she doesn’t stand still for long enough for anyone to grab ahold.

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

I’m fully convinced that, in ten years, I’ll be making a cake – maybe chocolate, this time – for Ellen’s 91st birthday. I’ll be pushing 40, and I’m quite sure that I’m the only one who will feel old.

Carrot Cake| Especially Edible

Carrot Cake Two Ways

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 1 cake

Ingredients

For the Cake

1 lb. carrots, finely grated (about 3 cups)

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 cups canola oil

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cloves

For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

16 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3-4 cups powdered sugar

salt to taste

For the Cream Cheese Glaze (if you're making a bundt cake)

6 oz. cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3-6 Tbs. milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

salt, to taste

cinnamon, to taste

For the Garnish

shredded coconut, toasted

1/2 cup pecans, toasted

Instructions

For the Cake

Preheat oven to 350. Trace the bottoms of two 9-inch round pans onto parchment paper, then use the paper to line the bottoms of the pans. (If using a Bundt pan, grease and flour the pan.)

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set

In a large bowl, mix sugar, eggs, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Fold in carrots. (Instead of grating, use a food processor - it cuts down on the required elbow grease and sore shoulders.)

Stir dry ingredients into wet until well combined.

Pour half the batter into one cake pan and half into the other. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for ten minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn out onto wire racks. (If making a Bundt cake, pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 50-65 minutes.) Wait for cakes to cool entirely before frosting and stacking. (Or drizzling the glaze on top.)

For the Frosting

Heat butter in a small saucepan until browned, about five minutes. Don't let the butter burn - when it's ready, you will see tiny dots of brown at the bottom and the aroma will be strong and nutty. Cool for fifteen minutes in the refrigerator.

After butter cools, cream together browned butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract and salt until smooth. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, sifting each as it goes in to eliminate lumps, Mix well after each addition, and taste the frosting after 3 cups to gauge its sweetness.

To Assemble

If necessary, level the tops of the cakes with a knife to make their tops flat. Place the bottom layer upside down on a plate or cake stand. Frost the top of the first layer, then add the second, icing the top and the sides with a thin coating of frosting.

If you have the time (and patience), let the cake chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. This will make it less crumbly and easier to frost with a thick layer of cream cheese / buttercream frosting. Use a knife or an offset spatula to ice the cake. With the spatula or the back of a large spoon, swirl the frosting on the top for a decorative effect. Garnish with toasted coconut and pecans.

If you are making a Bundt cake, soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about 20 seconds. (Make sure not to do this in the foil wrapping . . . I found out the hard way that this creates sparks.) Whisk until smooth, then sift the powdered sugar into the cream cheese. Add the salt, vanilla, and cinnamon, and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the glaze is thin enough to pour but thick enough to adhere to the sides of the cake. Pour over the Bundt cake and allow glaze to drizzle down the sides. Garnish with toasted coconut and pecans.

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