Saturday, July 30, 2011

Triple-Layer Carrot Cake

I know that carrots are generally regarded as a spring vegetable, however, this cake is such a fabulous treat during the hot summer months. Not to mention, it was requested from my co-workers at the DA's on my last day (holla!). Get ready, because this is one of those "best-ever" recipes (I got a few of those when I made it), and the three layers of deliciousness will have people thinking you are a pro baker!

I've included in the recipe a medley of spices that give a nice kick to the sweet and oh-so moist texture of the cake. Then, the light, pillowy cream cheese frosting smooths out the texture from the nuts and carrot, and gives the cake a decadent finish.
Believe me, if you are a carrot cake fan, find the next possible excuse (friend's birthday, potluck, dinner party), or heck, make up an excuse, and bake this cake!!

Cake Ingredients

* Butter (for buttering the pans)
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (choose high quality spices, it will make a big difference in flavor)
* 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon all spice
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 4 eggs
* 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
* 3 cups grated carrots (about 6-8 carrots)
* 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted (or walnuts if preferred)
* Note: Make sure you have 3 (8" or 9") round pans (important that they are same size and brand) and parchment paper.

Frosting Ingredients
* 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temp
* 12 tablespoons salted butter, a.k.a. 1 1/2 sticks (or if have unsalted butter on hand, just add a pinch of salt to the frosting at the end)
* 2 1/2 - 3 cups powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
* 2 teaspoons vanilla
* Optional: 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted (for decorating side of cake)

Cake Directions
* Preheat oven to 350 F.
* In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices).
* Add eggs and vegetable oil, using either a hand mixer or cake stand mixer.
* Stir in grated carrots and pecans to batter.
* To prepare the pans, coat with butter and line bottom of pan with parchment paper (very important step, otherwise you have a difficult time getting the cake out of the pans).
* Pour batter evenly between the three pans. Bake for about 35 minutes.
* Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for about 5-10 minutes (until pan is cool).
* Then, remove the cake from pan by turning over and gently patting the bottom. Cool on wax paper until room temperature (do not want the cakes to be warm at all when frosting--otherwise gooey mess will ensue).
Note on Toasting
* Whenever I use nuts in any recipe, I always toast them. Toasting brings out the oils in the nuts, and you will be amazed at how much tastier they are. If you would like to go this extra step, all you need to do is warm the nuts in a pan on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Keep a watchful eye on the nuts, and stir occasionally, so that the nuts do not burn. After I toast the nuts, then I give them a chop.

Frosting Directions
* While cakes are in the oven or cooling, this is a good time to make the frosting.
* Beat together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
* Then, add the powdered sugar little by little (don't add all at once, or sugar will splay everywhere).
* Mix in the vanilla, and whip for a couple minutes until fluffy.

* When time to frost, set up the cake on your cake dish, and put small pieces of wax paper under bottom layer (this way you can remove the wax pieces when done frosting, and your cake base will be clean).
* Spread a layer of frosting between three layers of cake.
* Then you will go about frosting the entire outside of the cake. You can use an icing knife or just use a regular butter knife.
* As you can see from the first picture, I decorated the cake by pressing chopped pecan pieces up the side of my cake, almost halfway. This is really easy- literally jut press into the cake using the palm of your hand, and it has a really nice professional look.
* Slice and serve to your most favorite friends!
~ Stay fresh!

* This recipe was born of Alton Brown's and Paula Dean's love child.

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