We were laughing this morning about how Easter was last weekend, yet it seems like we celebrated it weeks ago. We are still eating ham, and ham related dishes along with the last of the desserts which include biscotti, brownies and carrot cake.
When my kids were little, one of our favorite desserts at Easter was carrot cake. That was one of my signature desserts. But somewhere between the move to Easton, MA 9 years ago, then a second move and a basement flooding, I lost a few of my community cookbooks. You know, those great cookbooks put together through non-profit organizations that always include an old family favorite.
Between the carrot cake and the spinach squares (another one of our favorites), I've never really looked to find another recipe.
Last year, Jeff and I bought Sarabeth's Bakery - From My Hands to Yours. It truly has become one of our staple cookbooks, especially where dessert is my favorite dish. I found a great carrot cake recipe, but she didn't frost hers. I definitely wanted something with frosting and I knew I could whip something together once the cake was made. It had all the ingredients from my old recipe...carrots, pineapple, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon. The rest of the ingredients were simple and I had the cake mixed and in the oven in about 10 minutes. The toughest part was shredding the carrots, which the food processor did quite well.
As the cake baked, I pulled together some ingredients which I knew would produce a tasty frosting. I used a stick of butter to one package of cream cheese, some vanilla, powdered sugar and milk...it was the perfect mixture as well as the perfect amount to frost a two layer cake. I made the cake a day ahead and frosted it once the layers were cooled.
We served two favorite desserts, my mother's famous cheesecake with strawberries and the carrot cake...along with some homemade biscotti and some fudgy shortbread brownies (the next blog article). You always need finger food desserts, no matter how many rich desserts you serve. ;) The carrot cake was moist and flavorful with hints of cinnamon and toasted walnuts. The frosting was perfect and the responses were a riot. We had 18 people for dinner on Easter and most tried the carrot cake. They would come up to me after and say, "Ya know, that was really good carrot cake"...as if it were a secret. Even Jeff, who only tasted a bite on Easter, reminded me a few days later of how good the carrot cake was.
I'm glad I re-discovered carrot cake. It's been too long to go without this gooey, moist, sweet and ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS cake. Thank you Sarabeth, you truly make the BEST carrot cake.
1 cup of all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
1 cup of superfine sugar (we couldn’t find it so we used regular white sugar and put it through a food processor for 2 minutes)
2/3 cup of vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups of shredded carrots
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, well drained (½ cup)
½ cup of walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
½ cup of seedless raisins
½ cup of butter, at room temperature
1 (8-oz.) package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla
A pinch of salt
2 cups of confectioner’s sugar (plus or minus for your desired sweetness)
2 tablespoons of milk
½ cup of walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1. Preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour the inside of 2 8 inch cake pans and tap out the excess flour.
2. Mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl.
3. Combine the sugar, oil, and eggs in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until the mixture has thickened slightly and is light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low.
4. In thirds, add the flour mixture and mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, just until the batter is smooth. Add the carrots, pineapple, walnuts, and raisins and mix until combined.
5. Pour into the prepared pans and smooth the top with a spatula.
6. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert and un-mold the cakes onto the rack and let cool completely.
7. Using the mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt.
8. Add one cup of confectioner’s sugar, as it thickens, add milk to bring it to a spreading consistency.
9. Add the second cup, repeating like the first cup. Taste to see if the mix is sweet enough. I used about 2-1/4 cups of confectioner’s sugar and 2 tablespoons of milk. If the consistency is a little dry, add more milk by the teaspoon.
10. When the taste is to your liking. Place the first layer cake on a plate, frost the top. Place second layer on top, frosting the top and sides. Decorate with toasted walnuts.