A Touch of Whimsy
You know those fuzzy little chicks with orange plastic feet? I just love them. They always remind me of a scene in the children’s book Coco Counts where “…. 5 chicks are hungry and 6 bake a cake.”
Makes sense, don’t you think?
Any excuse to bake is a good one. With Mother’s Day fast-approaching, I put my little chicks to work to make my favorite carrot cake with my favorite cream cheese frosting. Nothing but the best will do for my mom.
Even if you hate carrots, you will love this cake. It’s moist and fragrant with warm spices. All the usually suspects are there…cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, but two unexpected ingredients put a new spin on an old classic. Just a touch of cocoa and black pepper make this carrot cake taste like no other.
Many years ago, my dinner guests arrived before the cake was out of the oven. After one bite, my friend’s husband put on the apron and was ready for instructions. He hadn’t even tasted the frosting! This recipe been a tradition in my family for long time and I make it every chance I get. All you need is a grater, bowl and spoon. It comes together so quickly that you can make two at once and it’s perfect for getting some help from little ones.
There’s no denying colorful frosting piled high on top of a cupcake looks really good, but how does it taste? Buttercream frosting probably looks great and keeps its shape well. While I love butter, I’m not comfortable eating a ton of it mixed with sugar. Cream cheese frosting balances sweetness with a little bit of tartness that’s just right especially for carrot cake. This one is a great recipe. The meringue powder helps the outer layer of the frosting dry out a bit so it holds its shape, but it really isn’t necessary. The frosting is delicious without it, just sweet enough and fragrant with vanilla.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Prep: 20 mins
Bake: 25-30 mins
Makes: 3-tiered cake or 24 cupcakes
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large free-range eggs + 1 yolk, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups grated carrots (3 medium)
1 1/2 cups grated Granny Smith apples, such as Granny Smith (2
1/2 cup raisins
2 8-oz bricks cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tb meringue powder (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Wash, peel and grate apples and carrots. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350*F.
Butter three 9-in. round cake pans and set aside.
Sift flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices,
cocoa, pepper, and salt into a mixing bowl.
Incorporate lightly beaten eggs and oil.
Add carrots, apples, raisins and gently fold by hand.
Divide batter among pans and transfer to hot oven.
Bake 25-30 mins.
Remove from oven and allow the cakes to rest in the pans for 10
mins.Then flip them onto metal racks to finish cooling.
While the cakes cool, make the frosting.
Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth.
Gradually add powdered sugar, cornstarch and meringue powder and mix until combined.
Once cakes are cool, set one cake onto a pretty cake plate.
Spread frosting evenly on top, then place another cake on top.
Frost the second layer and top with the third.
Generously frost top and sides of cake with remaining frosting.
Transfer to the fridge and chill 1 hour.