Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cooking Carrot Cake Like It's The Seventies

Carrot Cake Cupcake (Unwrapped)

Carrot Cake is delicious and tasty, and my thoughts on this subject clearly mean I was born in the wrong decade. Except, like fashion, food fads come around. And sure, red velvet cake may be the popular one right now, but hey, carrots are way more awesome than chocolate (okay, maybe they aren't) and you still get the cream cheese frosting!

But that's beside the point. Or maybe it is the point. I'm not quite sure. What I do know, however, is that I've made this carrot cake three times in the past month. THREE. I didn't even have the recipe with me the third time. That's how easy it is! It also means I have no idea where I originally got these proportions from, since I kind of just looked for a recipe that used the ingredients that I believed went into carrot cake, and went from there.

What prompted this carrot cake madness? Gorgeous carrots of course! Except they weren't all that pretty the third time. In case you were wondering, which you probably weren't, the carrots I used in Tehran were way more orange than the ones I picked up at a Schnuck's in St. Louis last week. But regardless of just how orange the carrots are, the cakes were tasty both places. The only time the cake, in my opinion, turned out less than stellar was when I cooked it in the form of a tube cake at my grandparent's garden house. Right before I was about to pour the batter into the pan, I thought it looked off, and realized I'd forgotten the oil. Adding oil at the last step meant overstirring the cake, bringing out the sticky property of gluten - not something you want in a tender cake. But, everybody still loved the cake, or at least they pretended to. All-in-all, I ended up giving four people the recipe for this cake while I was there. It'll be interesting to find out if any of them ever actually make it.

Carrot Cake Cupcake
Simple Carrot Cake
Note: This cake can make 2 9" cake rounds, or probably somewhere around 24 cupcakes, or a bundt cake, or a sheet cake. The cooking instructions below are for cupcakes.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger (alternately, you can use 2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
4 cups grated carrot (about 5-6 average-sized carrots)
1 cup raisins (or chopped, toasted walnuts), optional

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners. If you have 2 pans, line both, otherwise you'll need to bake them in two batches.

In a small bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until pale and thick. Whisk in the canola oil.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and with a spatula or wooden spoon, stir until just almost combined. Add the carrots and raisins or walnuts, if using and stir until all the flour is moistened.

Fill the lined muffin cups about 2/3 full of batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once cool you can top them with cream cheese frosting, if desired. See recipe below or use your favorite cream cheese frosting recipe.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces (1 package) cream cheese, softened
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powder sugar, or to taste

Beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Beat in salt and vanilla extract. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat to incorporate.

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