Yesterday was my birthday and we celebrated like we do every January 1st, with pork and sauerkraut for good luck and a favorite dessert! This year my cake was super special. No one else in my family enjoys baking as much as I do, so I typically make all of the desserts for big holiday dinners and birthdays. This year, just like all the rest I was planning on making my own birthday cake. I decided on making a carrot cake since it is one of my favorite cakes and I haven’t yet shared it with everyone on Sweet Pea’s Kitchen. As I was making the grocery list for New Year’s day, Andrew texted me from work and told me that he would make my birthday cake this year.
Now, I have been with this man for 10 years and I have never seen him bake! Cook, yes, but bake?! Come on! Not that I didn’t think he could do it, but if he saw the cake that I had planned I was certain he was going to back out. So I went to the store and gathered all the ingredients I needed and left this carrot cake recipe on the kitchen counter.
When he got home, sure enough he started in on the cake with no complaints! I stayed close by in case he had a question on how to use this, what is that, and so on.
I was super impressed with his baking and decorating skills. He took his time slicing the layers and frosting the cake. Don’t let those pecans on the side of the cake fool you, he wasn’t trying to cover up a sloppy layer cake. Each layer was meticulously cut, placed, and frosted.
And get this ladies…he even did the dishes when he was done! Now that I know what he is capable of doing I think that he should bake me a cake every year for my birthday!
For the Cake:
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1/4 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
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
16 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool
10 tablespoons unsalted butter softened, but still cool
2 tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 cup pecans, chopped finely and toasted
For the Decorative Carrots:
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine softened
1/2 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar1 tablespoons milk
For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round baking pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottoms of pan with parchment and spray parchment.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
Using the large holes of box grater shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside.
In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, 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 pans.
Bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time. Cool cakes to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.
When the cake is cool, make the cream cheese frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla at medium high speed 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.
To assemble the cake: cut layers in half horizontally using a long serrated knife so each cake forms 2 layers. Put a dab of icing on a cardboard round cut just larger than the cake and center one cake layer on the round. Place a large blob of icing in the center of the layer and spread it to the edges with an icing spatula. Repeat with remaining cake layers. Ice the sides and top of the cake.
Press the pecans into the sides of the cake.
To make the icing for the carrots: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Divide icing into two bowls and tint one orange and one green to desired shade. Keep bowls covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.
Fit a decorating bag with Round Decorating Tip 12 and fill 1/2 full with orange icing. Hold the decorating bag at slightly less than 90° angle. Position tip slightly above surface of the cake. Using heavy pressure, begin squeezing at top of carrot. Lift tip slightly, letting the icing fan out generously. Gradually relax pressure to taper shape as you pull back. When carrot is desired length, relax pressure and pull tip back without lifting it off the surface to pull end to a point. (you can also pipe them onto parchment paper and transfer them to the cake as Andrew is doing below).
Fit a decorating bag with Multi-Opening Decorating Tip 233 and fill 1/2 full with green icing. Trim the carrots with pull-out string tops.
Don’t forget to check out Sweet Pea’s Kitchen Top 10 of 2011!
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