Triple-Layer Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot CakeRabbits eat carrots, right? That was my rationale for making this cake for Easter. I didn’t need much of a reason, really, except that I love carrot cake, and I have a willing guinea pig to try everything I bake. I must say, this was the most successful layer cake I’ve ever made (and assembled), and my first triple-layer cake. I attribute my victory entirely to these invaluable tips given by Deb at Smitten Kitchen. The most important part: bake at 300 instead of 350 for a flatter cake. Brilliant! It takes 15 minutes longer in the oven, but it is totally worth it when you are trying to get layers to sit neatly in a stack. And you can dispense with all that messy hump-trimming that is otherwise necessary (and which has made every other layer cake I’ve put together more of an…earthquake cake). The other secret: refrigeration! Much easier to work with cold cakes and cold frosting. Also, much nicer slicing action. But on to the rest of this undertaking!

Carrot CakeJust look at these nice stripes of frosting! Incidentally, this is largest size piece I recommend. It is decadent! I ate a big piece for breakfast this morning…and was not hungry again until 5:30pm. Something about that suggests…that I should eat smaller pieces!

Carrot CakeThe cake itself is perfectly spiced and moist. It reminds me of the cakes I used to ask for when I was a kid for my birthday. I always wanted spice cake!

Carrot CakeI have become something of a cake obsessive in the last few years, and I think it’s because I never had cake pans until Eric and I got married. Not even a Bundt pan! As much as I love cookies and pies and brownies, I am really a cake girl at heart. (Eric and I once tried to figure out our preferences by plotting favorite desserts against childhood frequency of eating them…the results were inconclusive!)

Carrot CakeI was on a Bundt kick for a long time because I am not really the hugest fan of frosting…but I am starting to come to terms with it. When done right, it can be really wonderful. This cream cheese frosting is pretty much everything you could hope for. BUT. I would recommend cutting the recipe in half unless you really are more of a frosting person than a cake person. I put *so* much frosting on this cake, and I still have some leftover in the freezer.

Carrot CakeAnd, of course, since I can’t live without crunch, I covered the whole thing in pecans. Beautiful!

Carrot CakeAnd here is my cake preening itself in front of a few ginger beers, some sugar snap peas, and the last dregs of my shallot salad dressing. A lovely sight.

Carrot CakeI am pretty sure that most of this cake will be in the freezer from now until Christmas…so come on by and try some!

Triple-Layer Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from Martha Stewart

For the Cake:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
1 pound carrots (8 to 10 medium carrots), peeled and shredded on a box grater or in a food processor (about 2 3/4 cups)
2 cups pecans (1 cup finely chopped for batter, 1 cup coarsely chopped for decorating sides of cake)

For the Frosting:

1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

-Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Or 300 if you plan to bake them at a lower temperature). Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper, and butter parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg.
-Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat 3 minutes. Add vanilla, water, and carrots. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture, then finely chopped pecans.
-Scrape batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (Bake 45 minutes if baking at 300 instead of 350). Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen, and turn out cakes onto rack. Turn right side up, and let cool completely.
-Make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add butter, beating until incorporated. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add sugar, beating until incorporated.
-Using a serrated knife, trim rounded top of 2 cakes. Place one trimmed cake, cut side up, on a serving platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with second trimmed cake, cut side down. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with remaining cake. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides. Gently press coarsely chopped pecans onto sides of cake. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

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