Yield: one two-tier round cake
“Back to Baking”, pp. 184
Father’s Day is coming up this weekend. That can only mean one thing: it’s time to make a cake! It felt good to get back into baking after taking a small break (I was moving and everything was packed!). My dad uncharacteristically and specifically mentioned that he would very much like for me to make him a carrot cake for the occasion. Who am I to refuse? The fact that I love carrot cake is irrelevant and simply a great coincidence.
This recipe was easy to follow and reproduce. Notwithstanding the slightly under-cooked cakes due to my getting used to my new oven which, apparently, takes twice as long to bake anything, everything went as expected. The cream cheese frosting was velvety smooth and delightful, one of the best I have tasted. I was worried that the carrot cake would not taste as good as I was expecting because I find that it is often the case that carrot cakes or muffins do not have such a prominent carrot taste. However, it was unanimous: the cake was delicious!! Everyone loved it and said that it is my best cake thus far. I found myself unable to disagree. As for aesthetics, I did not have a flat leaf tip and did not think the tips I have would make a suitable design, so I left the tiers as is, which I still think makes the cake look elegant yet rustic. Hence, I highly recommend this recipe. It is reasonably easy to reproduce and is succulent!
Ingredients for cake:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 cups coarsely grated carrots, loosely packed
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 6 eggs
Ingredients for frosting:
- 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 packages (8 oz./250 g each) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 8 cups icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Required for assembly:
- 9-inch round cardboard cake board
- 6-inch round cardboard cake board
- 2 1/2 cups walnut pieces, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- Offset spatula (optional, to spread frosting)
- Piping bag
- Leaf tip
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9-inch and 6-inch cake pan.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Whisk to combine the ingredients.
- Stir in the grated carrot and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the brown sugar, oil and eggs.
- Add the sugar and oil mixture to the flour mixture, beating together with a stand or hand mixer until well combined.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, making sure to fill them to the same height. Bake the 6-inch cake for 25-30 minutes and the 9-inch cake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool the cakes for 20 minutes in the pan, then turn them out and let them cool completely, at least one hour.
- For the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese until the mixture is fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the icing sugar and vanilla extract and beat gently until the sugar is fully incorporated, then beat at a higher speed until the icing is fluffy. Warning: You will need your biggest bowl for this! This recipe makes a lot of frosting.
- To frost the cakes, slice the 9-inch cake into three equal horizontal layers. Spread a generous amount of frosting onto the first layer, top with the second layer, and spread frosting on this layer before topping it with the third and final layer. Chill for at least an hour.
- Repeat step 9 for the 6-inch cake.
- While the frosting is setting, prepare the walnut garnish by preheating the oven to 350°F. Toss the walnut pieces with the maple syrup and spread them evenly on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Toast the nuts for about 15-20 minutes, until they are evenly browned. Once they cool down, the maple syrup will caramelize and the nuts will be ready to use!
- Generously frost the top and sides of the cakes using an offset spatula, making the frosting as smooth and level as possible. Chill the cake for at least another hour before adding the final touches.
- To assemble the cake, carefully place the 6-inch tier on top of the 9-inch tier, ensuring that it is centered. For an added touch, you can fill a piping bag fitted with a flat leaf tip with cream cheese frosting and pipe vertical lines up the sides of the cake, from bottom to top. Generously sprinkle the toasted maple-covered walnut pieces over the top of each tier.
Notes from Anna:
- The toasted maple-covered walnut pieces can be kept in an airtight container until ready to use.
- The cake should be stored in the refrigerator, but can be kept at room temperature for display (or eating!) for up to 5 hours.