I promise, I didn’t forget how to use a calendar. Yes, I know, last week, The Bread and Breakfast went post-less, even after I promised to tell you all about how Poppa Daly’s birthday was being celebrated. And, I swear, I was just about to follow through with my promise, and hit the post button last Sunday morning, when I looked at the calendar. Not only did I see my father’s birthday marked on that very day, but I also saw an important event that was happening this week. …another birthday.
Whose birthday, you might ask? THE BREAD AND BREAKFAST’S BIRTHDAY, OF COURSE! Not the business portion, but the blog itself. Despite being run under a different name for it’s first few months, this baby is officially one year old. While I could go on and on about my personal happiness and growth that has come with the journey, I’ll spare you all of it, apart from one key piece of learning. One year ago today, I wrote to you about how the next 10 bucket list posts were going help me find balance between health versus indulgence, and work versus play. After completing those 10 posts, and 59 more, I can tell you this: there is no such thing as complete balance. It’s a lie, for sure. One day’s balance may look different than another’s, and like a seesaw, there is really no way of making it absolutely level. Instead of trying so hard to find so called “balance”, doing the best you can do each day and then letting it go the next, is all you can really do.
ANYWAYS, to celebrate my dad’s birthday, the blog’s birthday, AND finally putting the pieces together on this lesson, I decided to kill multiple birds with one stone, and make the best birthday cake around: The Ultimate Carrot Layer Cake. For those of you scoffing that a carrot cake isn’t birthday fare, be prepared to be proven wrong. So wrong.
The beauty of a carrot cake is in it’s signature spicy flavor. This particular base features a pretty hefty amount of a few key ingredients: cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Along with the other typical base ingredients of flour, salt, and leavening agents, they come together to create a treat that tastes like Fall, year round.
In this case, your wet ingredients will feature oil instead of butter. Whether you use vegetable, coconut, or canola, you’ll be getting a moister cake than you would if you creamed butter with the sugar instead.
We’ve made it to the best part: the chunks. Yes, I just went there. Seriously though, carrot cake is so unique in that it is meant to have more of a crunchy and heavy texture as opposed to a light and fluffy texture. To accomplish this, we’ll be adding some chopped walnuts and raisins to the shredded carrots.
Once these are all combined, you’ll split the batter by weight into two sprayed and lined 9 inch cake pans. Personally, I really like putting Wilton Even Bake Strips around my pans to make sure that I will end up with two level cakes later on.
Next up, frosting! Cream cheese frosting, of course. Not only is this frosting super simple, but the best part about it is that it isn’t overly sweet. The carrot cake itself has a lot of diverse flavors and textures going on in it. It needs a frosting that will compliment it subtly, without overpowering it. In order to ensure that happens, you’ll end up making the bulk of your frosting using a high proportion of cream cheese, as opposed to powdered sugar.
To whip up the good stuff, you’ll simply beat softened cream cheese and butter until they are well combined and smooth. Then, you’ll add in your powdered sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream. Mix it slowly at first, for about 30 seconds until the powdered sugar has been absorbed a bit by the rest of the frosting. Ain’t nobody got time to be cleaning up a powdered sugar mess. After you’ve mixed slowly for a little bit of time, you can turn up your mixer to high and beat for about 3 minutes. From there, adjust the consistency by either adding in a tablespoon at a time of heavy cream or powdered sugar.
Now for the assembly! If you used the bake even strips, you can avoid the process of leveling your cake! If not, make sure that you are starting with two even and level cakes.
The first cake will go on to the cake round, bottom side down. Apply frosting to the cake to create a layer that is about 1/2 inch thick. Before throwing on your other cake, I would suggest sprinkling on some extra walnuts and raisins. This will contribute such a unique texture to your cake, as well as add even more to flavor to the end result.
Once your middle layer is done, you can add the second cake to the top, bottom side up. Use the rest of the frosting to cover the rest of the cake. If you’re feeling fancy, decorate using the rest of your extra raisins and walnuts.
And, there you go folks: The Ultimate Carrot Cake. It’s perfect for birthdays, holidays, weekends…weeknights…you get it.
Here’s to another year of experimenting, making bad food puns, and discovering new things!
Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry!
The Ultimate Carrot Cake
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cup buttermilk*
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup oil (canola, vegetable, coconut)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
- 2 cups carrots, grated
- ¾ cups raisins
- ¾ cups walnuts, chopped
- 16 ounces (2 blocks) cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup butter, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cups walnuts, chopped
- 2/3 cups raisins
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well to eliminate clumps. In a separate large bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.
- Combine dry ingredients into wet, folding carefully as to not over mix.
- Fold in carrots, raisins, and walnuts.
- Line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds, and spray with cooking spray.
- Divide the batter between the two pans, by weight.
- Bake for 25-27 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Let cakes cool completely before frosting.
- Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and cream. Mix slowly until combined and then whip on high speed for about 3-4 minutes, until creamy. To control consistency, add one tablespoon of powdered sugar or heavy cream to make frosting thicker or looser.
- Lay one cake bottom side down on a cake round. Spread about a ½ inch layer of cream cheese frosting on top, evenly. Sprinkle with ½ cup of chopped walnuts and raisins each.
- Place next layer on top, bottom side up. Finish by frosting entire cake with cream cheese frosting.
- Decorate with chopped walnuts and raisins.
- **To make homemade buttermilk, add 1 ½ tablespoons of white wine vinegar to 1 ½ cups of milk.
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