Happy Christmas everyone! I hope your holiday has been, and will continue to be filled with love, joy, family, friends and endless layers of sweetness like this fluffy carrot cake.
Carrot cake isn’t necessarily a conventional Christmas dessert, not like a steamed pudding or trifle anyway, but it does make a nice addition to the holiday feasting because it incorporates a lot of the foods we associate with the holidays. The delicate layers of cake are full of sugar, spices, nuts, fruit and shredded carrots layered between thick, creamy cream cheese frosting for a smooth and satisfying finish to any holiday meal. It’s not overly sweet and can be a welcome change to some of the sweeter desserts being whipped up right now.
Though I usually wrap the whole cake in frosting, this time I wanted to cut back on the richness a little and thought I’d just layer the cake with frosting and top it off with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. I placed a doilie upside down on top of the cake and sprinkled powdered sugar with a little sifter around the edges until the holes in the doilie were covered. The result was a pretty outline of the doilie to decorate the cake, without the heaviness of a lot of cream cheese frosting. My family was delighted with the results as they raved about the rich and satisfying taste of the cake without some of the extra calories that usually come with a lot of frosting.
Wrapped entirely in frosting or filled just between the layers, this carrot cake is a delicious way to entertain family or friends during the holiday season because the ingredients can be adjusted to suit your preferences by changing golden raisins for dried currants, shredded coconut (my personal favorite) or pineapple chunks.
My sincere best wishes for a wonderful year of sweetness and joy!
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
11/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 pound peeled and coarsely grated carrots (approximately 3 cups)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, untoasted
1/2 cup golden raisins
1. Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Sift together the flours, baking powder, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl, then whisk the mixture by hand to ensure that the ingredients are well mixed.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars with the oil on low-speed until the mixture resembles wet sand. As you make the batter, stop the mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, adding the next one as soon as the previous one has disappeared into the batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and blend for 3 minutes. The thick batter will increase in volume and lighten in color. With the mixer on low-speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour. After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl. Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula to ensure you do not over-beat the batter. Fold in the carrots, golden raisins and the walnuts.
4. Divide the batter evenly between four prepared pans. Place the pans in the center of the oven and bake until the cakes are golden and spring back when lightly touched in the middle, 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Promptly run a knife around the edge of the pan to help the cake retract evenly from the sides while cooling. Cool the cakes in their pans for 10-12 minutes, taking extra care as they are fragile and could crack. Leave them to cool on the rack, top side up, until they reach room temperature and you are ready to assemble the cake.
6. To assemble the cake, place one of the layers, top side up, on a serving plate. If the cake is domed in the middle you may need to use a serrated knife to trim off the domed area. Using a metal spatula, spread one-third of the frosting over the cake, spreading it slightly to the edge. Place the next layer of cake, top side down, on top of the frosted layer, remembering to trim any excessive doming first, if necessary. Repeat again, ending with the last layer placed top side up on the frosting. Place a doilie upside down on top the cake and press it down until it sticks slightly. Fill a small sifter with a tablespoon of powdered sugar, taping it gently with your hand over the edges of the doilie until you have gone all the way around. Carefully remove the doilie by lifting it gently up and away from the cake and you should have a lovely decorative pattern that will last for several hours. If left overnight the powdered sugar will be absorbed into the cake so if you are entertaining, it may be best to leave this part until just before your guests arrive.
This cake is fabulous the day it’s made but can be kept fresh for up to 2 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator due to the frosting. Allow at least 1 hour for the cake to come to room temperature before serving. I’ve also frozen this cake with great results. Just let it defrost at room temperature and serve.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Food Network Website