Tuesday, 22 April 2008

One of Your Daily Five

Well, it's Tuesday morning and we all know what that means now, that means it's Tuesdays With Dorie day, one of my most favouritest days of the week. The day that I get to join in with some bazillion of other bakers around the world and bake a recipe from our most bestest favouritest book of all time, Baking From My Home To Yours, by the bestest baker in the world, Dorie Greenspan! Whew! What a mouthful! If you want to know more about the group and how they got started, and how you yourself can join, you can go to their page Tuesdays With Dorie and it's all there in glorious Technicolour for you to read all about it, but to make a long story short . . . each week we all prepare the same thing, and once in a while we even get to pick which recipe it is we are going to bake. It's going to be a loooooong time before it's my turn, but that's ok . . . I am enjoying baking, not to mention eating, my way through the book!

This week's recipe was Bill's Big Carrot Cake as chosen by Amanda of slow like honey . Ohh, what a delicious choice Amanda! Carrot Cake has to be both my and Todd's favouritest cake of all, and also one of the easiest types of cakes to make!!

I had the chance this past week to get together with some friends for a bit of a coffee morning and a gab. I don't really drink coffee myself, but it is always nice to get together with people you enjoy and share in some refreshements and a nice chat. When I saw this weeks choice for the baking challenge I just knew it would be the perfect accompaniment.
Carrot cake has to be one of most people's favourite cakes!

I decided from the very beginning that I would bake the three layers and use one for the coffee morning, one for Todd to eat right away, and then freeze one for a later date. A three layer cake is just far too much for Todd and I to ever get through on our own, and I would hate to waste any of it . . . plus who can't use an extra cake layer in the freezer, ready and available to pull out at a moment's notice!

Carrot cakes have to be one of the easiest of cake recipes to execute and bake. They always go together like a dream and are fairly hard to screw up in my opinion, and this one was no exception. In fact as I don't really have a good stand mixer here at home I actually put this one together with the aid of my trusty wooden spoon, just like I always put carrot cake together. The longest part of the whole recipe was the grating of the carrots, and about half an hour and a couple of orange hands later I had a lovely pile of them just waiting to be stirred into the batter. I have to be honest here and admit, I did add a tin of drained pineapple crush to the recipe, because

  1. I had one in the cupboard that was close to it's use by date and it needed to get gone . . . and . . .
  2. I happen to love the extra moistness and delicious flavour pineapple gives to a carrot cake, end of . . .

All I had to do was to reduce the amount of carrots I was using by the same amount of pineapple I had and presto, no problemo! The cake baked up beautifully and was cooling on my wire racks in no time at all, well . . . er . . . about an hour later.

Cream cheese over here in England is not the same animal as cream cheese in North America. Yes, it's still called Philadelphia Cream Cheese and they also have various store brands, and you can get it in high fat and low fat as well. (Guess which one I used?) Anyways, it is a lot moister than North American cream cheese, hence you can't make cream cheese frosting in quite the same way. You need a whole whack more icing sugar just to help it to hold up and you daren't ever add any extra liquid such as lemon juice or it would never come together in a million trillion years, so I had to fly by the seat of my pants and make my own frosting for this one. (Sorry girls) Basically all I did was whip the required amount of cream cheese together with a lump of butter and about 5 1/2 cups of icing sugar and I had a lovely icing to spread on top of two of the layers.

Oh . . . we did have a grande time digging into this cake. It was hard to get a word in edgewise in between the ooohs and the aaahs, mumbled through mouthfuls of moist and delicious cake, but it went down a real treat and everyone around the table, all five of us gave it two thumbs up! There was only a little bit left at the end and I gave it to our visitor to take home to her father, who suffers from Alzheimer's and I had an e-mail from her the next day telling me how much he enjoyed it.

The one I had at home went down really well with Todd too, and I had a good time convincing myself, for a few mornings at least, that I was actually eating something quite healthy for breakfast. Cake for breakfast turns it into a meal instead of a dessert, and that has to be good right? After all, this one contains carrots . . . and carrots are one of your daily five, not to mention . . . they are full of anti-oxidants and are one of the world's richest vegetable sources of the pro-vitamin A carotenes. Carrots' antioxidant compounds help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer and also promote good vision, especially night vision. That's a fact . . . so mama wasn't lying when she told you to eat up your carrots so you could see in the dark! We won't talk about the icing . . . Hmmm . . . I think I'll take that last layer out of the freezer this weekend and we'll just have it plain with some Lemon Curd drizzled over top a la Dorie's idea . . . Lemons are one of your daily five as well, not to mention chocked full of vitamin C! (Shut up!)

*Bill's Big Carrot Cake*
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Yields 10 servings

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
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
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. Carrots and pineapple seem to go so well together, tonight we had carrot, raisin salad...with pineapple added of course and it was delish. I can't wait to try the carrot cake. yummo!!

  2. Now that cake MUST be good for you - it has fruit and veg in it! LOL it looks delish Marie

  3. Interesting about the cream cheese being different.
    Looks like you more than faired well with the icing though.

  4. Dare I say i could worry the whole lot it has to be one of my favourite cakes too Marie.Make it even better when it's good for you too.Yum Yum.One pce two pce three pce more .Whoops it's all gone LOL!!Thankyou for sharing this lovely recipe today.Have a lovely Tuesday and I hope Todd is well too.Take Care God Bless Kath.

  5. Oh yummo, this looks good Marie...love the photo with the tulips behind...I'm making your raspberry / clotted cream cake this weekend for very special guest. I'll let you know how it turns out!

  6. That looks so good! Like how you have used tulips for the backdrop too, really pretty :)

  7. I don't like carrots, but I love carrot cake. Check your e-mail! I need your culinary expertise! :)

  8. I HAVE to make this cake!! I love carrot cake, but this sounds like carrot cake supreme! Love you, dear friend ((HUGS))

  9. looks so scrumtious! I love how the light is streaming in on your cake. I also love the idea of making separate layers so there isn't as much to eat at once! Very smart.

  10. The cake looks perfect, despite whatever adjustments you had to make for the cream cheese. Odd (interesting and frustrating, too) about the cream cheese being called "Philadelphia" but being so different.

  11. Lemme guess, he's known as Big Bob because he eats so much of this? lol

    I know I would...well done!

  12. Great job! Lemon curd would be to die for on this cake...another thing I need to try!

  13. LOL, you just crack me up, and I love reading your posts each week! I'm glad a fellow (faux)European can attest to the fact that cream cheese in Europe is a bird of a different feather. I used my own Euro-friendly cream cheese recipe too. Btw, I love carrot cake with pineapple in it, and I'm definitely going to give your substitution a bash next time!

  14. Brilliant idea to add pineapple to the cake, I'll have to remember that!

  15. Ohhhhhhhh, lovely! I'm definitely adding pineapple next time. Then I can pretend it's hummingbird cake while I eat all of my delicious antioxidants. ;)

  16. I saw your lovely frosting and realized it was a really nice frosting to cake ratio and that you were also getting your required dairy allocation in addition to all those fruits and veggies!

  17. love the way your slice looks!! the pineapple must have tasted really yummy in that, will remember for next time!

  18. Your coffee morning sounds like a lot of fun and your cake looks delicious!

  19. Your cake looks lovely! I like the idea of the one layer for coffee. Or, just by itself! :)

  20. I LOVE the thick layer of frosting...yum!

  21. Your cake looks great and I love the flowers in the background. Very pretty!

  22. Carrot cake with cream cheese icing has always been one of my favourites Marie. I have a recipe from Cooking Light that uses applesauce instead of the oil and it is just so darn good too:D

  23. The first time I made a cream cheese frosting I almost panicked because as soon as I whipped the icing sugar in it went almost liquid (I wasn't expecting that). Some double cream whisked into it took care of it. Must have been to do with the fat, as with the butter in your recipe.
    love, Angie, xx
    p.s. - I only got one photo through. Shame!

  24. That's so interesting about the cream cheese. Your cake looks lovely. I think that you can justify eating it too- after all it has carrots!

  25. Your carrot cake looks soooo delicious Marie! I could taste it as you were describing it.
    Jeanie xxxx

  26. Uh-oh - as you were. I just loaded you up again and all photos came through........yyyyyyyyyyyUM
    Angie, xx

  27. Your cake looks great! And I bet the pineapple gave it a great taste!

  28. I love your justification for eating cake. I think it totally makes sense! LOL. My CW mentioned using canned pineapple too so maybe I'll have to try that addition next time. Great job!
    Clara @ I♥food4thought

  29. Good idea with the pineapple. Beautiful pictures as usual!

  30. Why Marie, why do you tempt me so before going to the grocery store?! That cake looks amazing! I think I may be making one soon....

  31. Cake for breakfast is always welcome. It is better than a dougnut, right?

  32. I like the idea of keeping the three layers separate and using them for different occasions! You cake looks fabulous!

  33. Good idea with the pineapple. No it was a great idea. The joy of htis group is seeing all the variations. It was interesting about your cream cheese.

  34. Gorgeous looking cake! A lot of people added pineapple - I should try that next time. Nice job!

  35. great idea making 3 separate cakes!! and i'm totally w/you on the pineapple -i love it in carrot cake :) you MUST give the pastry queen recipe a try, i promise you won't be disappointed!

  36. Hi Marie
    When you have a chance, drop by my blog. There is an award for you. I read your blog often but don't leave comments. I love the recipes and the bits of inspiration you give!
    Rhondi xo

  37. I will be making this soon. Looks yummy!! I actually cooked tonight for the first time since Keith's illness.


  38. I love cake... chocolate cake to be exact... but I surely eat your beautiful carrot cake any day!

  39. I also like your idea of using the 3 layers separately. I'll have to remember that for future cakes. Looks delicious.

  40. Yum! that looks so moist. I am a late starter this week as I wanted to make my cake for book club tomorrow, so i am baking tonight!

  41. I love your picture with the grater and ingredients. Great job!

  42. Mmm…pineapple! What a great idea! And to save a layer? Much more self-control than I can hope to obtain! :)

  43. ohhh...that looks so moist and yummy! my mum also always does the tinned pineapple trick with carrot cake. and great idea to split them up and freeze one!

  44. I have a really good carrot cake recipe that is similar but it has buttermilk, pineapple, nutmeg & ginger in it as well.
    Carrot cake is sooo good. I think I may be baking one tomorrow!! :)

  45. I have never tried pineapple in my carrot cake and just cannot imagine liking it - but so many do! I need to try it sometime. I wonder if my cream cheese is different here in South America? I cannot remember what it was like in the US anymore! Your cake looks great and I think you were smart to split it up to serve it in different places!

  46. Your photos look so...moist!
    Delicious and colorful too!

  47. Oh, I don't know about carrot cakes being the easiest of cake recipes - I managed to dork it up twice :)

    Looks great!


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