April 22, 2008

TWD- Bill's Big Carrot Cake

Up until about four years ago I didn't like avocados. I don't know where I got this idea but since I'd spent many years not liking them, I was shocked that when I finally tried them, I realized I LOVE avocados! I guess I have the same problem when it comes to Carrot Cake. When Amanda from Slow like Honey chose it, I figured, well at least I wont be tempted to eat it! Wrong again. I decided I'd better half the recipe and make cupcakes so I could easily distribute them to friends without keeping them at my house. So with Baby's help, I shredded the carrots and got to work, and here as my first mistake. Instead of using the small grater, I did the big size, and I think they weighed down the batter too much.

The half batch of batter made 12 regular cupcakes, 6 minis, and a LOT of dishes. I put them into the oven and by the recommended time (I'd heard 25 minutes) all I had was flat mush. That's right. I baked them a little longer. They were still raw and funny looking. I ended up taking them out and just prying them out of the pan and dumping what I could salvage into a bowl that everyone snacked out of and topped their ice cream with.

While my cupcakes collapsed and didn't quite work out, they tasted ridiculously delicious. So good I almost forgot I don't like carrot cake. I didn't make the frosting since I didn't have cupcakes but I use a similar recipe all the time and add lemon zest to it. I will try again another time with cakes, not cupcakes, and lemony- cream cheesey, delicious frosting.

Make sure to check out the rest of the TWD peeps- hopefully they had better luck!

Bill's Big Carrot Cake

from Baking by Dorie Greenspan


For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (I used Walnuts)
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

To make the frosting:

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To assemble the cake:

Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.

Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it's good plain, it's even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.

The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it's firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.


  1. I'm glad you found something you liked! I am convinced that I don't like avocados either, but I can't remember the last time I ate one, so I should try them again!

  2. I *was* also a carrot cake hater but after this recipe I think I've changed my mind too! :)
    Clara @ I♥food4thought

  3. These did dirty many a bowl.
    You should have done the frosting...it is so good. :)

  4. at least it tasted great, right? I thought this was delicious as well. Good job!

  5. Your carrot shred-size theory is something I didn't consider (my cupcakes fell as well). But, it was yummy for sure! No doubt you'll be on the lookout for a tasty recipe that rises properly.

  6. Ohhhhhhh, the crumbled carrot cake sitting on top of that ice cream looks good. Deconstructed–very avant garde. ;)


  7. You did a good job of salvaging your cupcakes, well done! My cupcakes look pretty fugly too, bumpy and spongy, but they turned out fine in the end.

  8. I hope you will try it again, and with frosting, that was the best part! :)

  9. It looks like we had a similar experience...mine was a bust, too. Oh well, no extra calories, right???

  10. Oh, I had the same amount of dishes...and I had to clean my oven...not too happy about that :(

  11. is tt ice-cream you're having with the carrot cake?! my gosh.. tt sounds terribly exciting.. *drools*

  12. Wasn't it a delicious cake! Love it as an ice cream partner. mmmm:) The ultimate comfort food!

  13. I hear that a lot of cupcakes collapse...honestly, I think I would rather just eat it out of a bowl with ice cream like you have pictured...yum!

  14. Carrot cake always = lots of dishes for me! Glad you found something you might like though!

  15. One of these days I'll get the whole recipe on my blog. But, in the meantime, the "secret" is zuchinni. Sub zuchinni for 1/3-1/2 of the carrots. Works like a charm.

  16. The cake looks great over the ice cream!

  17. I bet it was delicious over ice cream! I made cupcakes and I used a food processor to grate the carrots pretty fine. Mine didn't fall and I was wondering why so many others did. Your theory sounds like that might be the cause.

    I'm glad you liked the cake despite having problems! (I'm a carrot cake and avocado lover, well...not together..hmmm...wonder what that would taste like! lol)

  18. It's funny how sometimes we think we don't like something and then it turns out we do! I did that with meatloaf! I love what you did the the cake- it looks delicious on top of that ice cream!

  19. Too bad the cupcakes didn't come out quite right but I love that you almost forgot you hate carrot cake.

  20. I thought the same thing about carrot. Then I ate two big pieces. Loved that you were able to salvage it with ice cream (always good).

  21. Well, it sure looks like you made lemonade of lemons. I could go for a bowl of your crumbled carrot cake!

  22. You should try again. It was a delicious cake!

  23. My first run through of the recipe did exactly what yours did! I ended up breaking it into pieces and everyone just munched on those. I figured I packed the carrots too much. I should have thought of putting it on top of ice cream - that looks fantastic!