Saturday, April 11, 2009

Elizabeth's March Cake - Carrot Cake with Walnuts

Ella posing.
She thinks all photos should taken with a straight face.

I LOVE CARROT CAKE!!! I go crazy for it. I adore it. But when there are raisins in it, I loathe it. I wouldn't eat carrot cake with raisins even if it were wrapped in bacon, covered in guacamole, and served on a chocolate platter.

For March, I made a carrot cake WITHOUT raisins. It was divine! It didn't even need guac.

The unadorned cake.

Tasty frosting.
There should have been 1.5 times or 2 times the frosting.

Our friends Dave and Katie came over with their kids for Pizza and Game Friday. They had unprompted seconds of the cake, so I think they liked it!

The 5 kids.....not so much.

(You can't see it, but not one of these pieces has more than a single bite out of it. It's kinda funny actually. I mean, the kids are jumping around, screaming and dancing for cake, and then it's served to them and they're like, " thanks." Hehehe. I finally got my kind of cake. Long live Year of Cakes!)

A slice of cake in all its lusciousness!
Adam reading Shel Silverstein in the background.

Carrot Cake with Simple Cream Cheese Frosting, by Cook's Illustrated.
Makes one 13 by 9-inch cake. Published March 1, 2003.

If you like nuts in your cake, stir 1 1/2 cups toasted chopped pecans or walnuts into the batter along with the carrots.


Carrot Cake
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 pound medium carrots (6 to 7 carrots), peeled
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil , safflower oil, or canola oil
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese , softened but still cool
5 tablespoons unsalted butter softened, but still cool
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar (4 1/2 ounces)


  1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment and spray parchment.

  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.

  3. Shred carrots using large holes of box grater (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in large bowl and using hand-held mixer), beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds. Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer. Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.

  4. When cake is cool, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla at medium high speed in clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment ( or in large bowl using handheld mixer) until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

February Cake Book Review: Honey Cake by Joan Betty Stuchner

Honey Cake, by Joan Betty Stuchner, is geared toward preteens, but it was still a fun CAKE BOOK for February!

Copenhagen is the setting for this Holocaust-era story about a boy named David who must help his parents deliver messages for the Jewish resistance. David's father is a baker, but his mother's honey cake is said to be superb.

The cake doesn't play a large role in the book, as I thought it might. I thought the cake might trick a soldier, or the cake might hide a note, or the cake might explode, or the cake might be scalding hot in a German's tender mouth. But it wasn't to be. The cake was just a symbol for keeping their home life as normal as possible, despite the conflict and tension on the streets around them. Blah, blah, blah. The box on the front of the book is not even a cake box! What!? Talk about a deceptive title!

Still, every so often I love a book that I can read in an hour and a half, and this one fit the bill. And it was (kindof) about cake! Too bad the cake wasn't as sneaky as I was hoping.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ann's February Cake - White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Last Christmas, my mom gave me some heart-shaped cupcake holders, and they were absolutely screaming to be used during February. So I made my month's cake on the night of Valentine's Day. Luckily for me, I had plenty of love to go around that evening. What better way to show affection to those dearest to me than to make some awesome heart-shaped cupcakes?

I knew exactly what I wanted to make, but didn't have a recipe to use, so I found a basic white cupcake recipe and added the raspberry elements that I knew would make these perfectly Valentine's-y.

The batter was super simple, with a light almond flavor, but the frosting I used was made with white chocolate and cream cheese and it was luscious. After the cupcakes had baked and cooled, I frosted them, which obscured the shape of the heart a bit, but I did my best to keep the shape.
I cut the tops off the frosted cupcakes and then filled them with whipped cream into which I had stirred and mashed some fresh raspberries. The raspberry cream was mounded onto the bottom of the cupcake, then the frosted top was replaced, and finally I added some fresh raspberries in an attempt to make a heart on top. It didn't really work, but no one was complaining.

These were SSSSSSSOOOOOOO good! The cream cheese and white chocolate was the perfect match with the raspberries, which were completely worth the out-of-season expense. Is there anything better than a perfect raspberry? I really can't think of anything more satisfying than these ruby-topped cakes. My roommates agreed:

Since I made these, they have been spoken of with reverence in our apartment. It's a good thing they tasted great, because they were also quite difficult to eat.

Valentine's Cupcakes

Cakes: (Recipe is "White Christmas Cupcakes" from Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans)
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 C whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 C sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set out 12 heart-shaped cupcake holders.

2. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, stir the milk, vanilla, and almond extracts together.

3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat the butter and sugar until smoothly blended and lightened in color, about 3 minutes; the mixture will look sugary and form large clumps. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing just until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth. Set aside.

4. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites with clean beaters on medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Beat on high speed until the egg whites look shiny and smooth and the beaters form lines in the egg whites. If you stop the mixer and lift up the beaters, the whites should cling to the beaters. Stir about 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the reserved batter. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the remaining egg whites just until blended.

5. Fill each cupcake holder with 1/3 cup of batter. Bake just until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool completely.

3 oz. white chocolate, chopped
1/4 C unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 C powdered sugar

1. Carefully melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Transfer into a large bowl.

2. Add the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla to the white chocolate and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth and blended, about 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar, mixing until it is incorporated and the frosting is smooth, about 1 minute.

Heavy whipping cream
Fresh raspberries

1. Whip cream to desired consistency, and add a handful of fresh raspberries and mash with a fork to tinge the cream pink. Add more as desired, stirring and mashing.

2. Slice the tops off the cupcakes. Frost the top with the cream cheese frosting, carefully preserving the heart shape.

3. Mound the raspberry cream onto the cut side of the cupcake bottom, then place the frosted top back over the cream. Finish with three fresh raspberries.