Sunday, March 14, 2010

Carrot Cake - SMS

Thanks for stopping by Little Bit of Everything. I am so excited!! This is my week to host Sweet Melissa Sunday's. As I flipped through the cookbook a few weeks ago, it was hard to decide which recipe to choose. I wanted a recipe I could make without a big FAIL and something I knew I would like. I love carrot cake. The best carrot cake I've ever eaten was at an Omaha restaurant, The Flatiron . The chef, Jennifer Coco, is nominated for a James Beard award for the second year in a row. The Flatiron's carrot cake was to die for yummy!! I am in search of that carrot cake recipe. Would this one be the one?

I admit I haven't baked a lot of layer cakes. For sure, I haven't baked many from scratch. One of the first was this one. The results were great and left me feeling encouraged to bake more layer cakes. One of my 2010 cooking resolutions is to attend cake decorating classes. I wish I had done that before this week, so my cake would be even a fraction as beautiful as some of the other SMS bakers.

Baking a layer cake always takes me back to my childhood. My mother made a lot of layer cakes. Although no one recipe sticks in my mind. Do you think that's because the mind isn't what it used to be? I remember when she was baking a cake and I would come stomping into the kitchen, she'd say walk softly or you'll make the cake fall. We had to tiptoe through the kitchen. We didn't dare think about opening the door. I opened the door at one point on this cake and could hear my mother scolding me!

The only carrot cake I've ever made uses baby food carrots. It's a delicious moist cake and so easy to put together. This cake was relatively easy to put together. The most time consuming part is grating the carrots. If you have a food processor, it makes it easier.

I've read some of the other Sweet Melissa bloggers comments about the 1 1/2 tablespoons of cinnamon in this recipe being a typo. I thought it seemed liked a lot but I love cinnamon, so I didn't hesitate to go ahead with tablespoons instead of teaspoons.

When I tested the cake at 40 minutes, it was done. I was concerned that it might be overdone but it was perfect.

I'm sad to say this wasn't the to die for carrot cake recipe. I thought this cake was good but not great. The texture is the moist texture you expect in a carrot cake but the cake is lacking in flavor. I liked the bites with frosting much better than the ones without. I am glad I used the cinnamon as tablespoons and not teaspoons or it would have really been lacking in flavor. I am anxious to see what the other Sweet Melissa Sunday's bakers thought of this recipe.

Along with each recipe in the book, Melissa shares a story or some other tidbit about the recipe you are making. Melissa made this cake for her sisters wedding.

Carrot Cake with Fresh Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
- makes one 8-inch cake -
From...The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, by Melissa Murphy.

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound carrots, grated medium fine
3/4 cup walnut pieces, coarsely chopped

For the fresh orange cream cheese frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softene
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Before you start
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour two 8x2-inch round cake pans. Line each pan with an 8-inch round of parchment paper.

To make the cake

1. in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the eggs at high speed until light and frothy, about 1 minute. Decrease the speed to medium and add the oil, sugar, and salt, and mix until just combined. Decrease the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

3. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the carrots and walnuts.

4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Spin the pans to level the batter. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a rack to cool for 20 minutes before turning the layers out onto the rack. Cool completely before filling or frosting.

To make the frosting
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and zest. Start on low speed and then increase to medium-high speed and beat until smooth, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

2. Add the butter and mix on medium speed until just fluffy and smooth, about 45 seconds more. Add the vanilla and mix until just combined. Do not overbeat.

To complete the cake

1. Cut 4 strips of wax or parchment paper about 12 inches long by 3 inches wide. Place the bottom cake layer trimmed side up on your serving plate. Tuck the wax paper under the edges of your cake on all sides. Later, after frosting the cake, you can pull away the stripes to reveal a nice clean serving plate.

2. Using a metal offset spatula, spread the filling across the top of the layer, but leave about 1/2 inch uncovered around the outside edges. (This leaves room for the filling to be squished down but to stay inside the cake.)

3. Place the second layer trimmed side down on top of the filling and press down gently with your hands.

4. Apply a light, even layer of frosting on all sides of the cake. Place the cake in the refrigerator to chill for a good 30 minutes.

5. After the crumb coat has chilled, smooth on your final layer of frosting.
The cake keeps in a cake saver in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It tastes great eaten at room temperature or chilled.


  1. It's fun hosting isn't it? I'm apologize for not baking with you, but I have decided to sit out this week. Your cake is beautiful and looks delicious!

  2. Thank you for being the best hostess today! I love your carrot cake selection. It was fun to bake, something about making a cake relaxes me! I still tell my kids to walk softlyor don't slam the door when I have a cake in the oven! My mom did the same thing to us growing up!
    Your cake looks so good even if it was not a new favorite!

  3. I'm sorry you didn't LOVE love it. But thanks for hosting this week! I thought it came out fabulous, and I keep seeing my fiance sneaking slices of it all day long. :)

  4. Thanks for hosting, Julie. I loved the choice and the cake turned out to be really good. I wish you would have liked it more. Next time...

  5. Thanks for hosting this week! I think your cake looks fantastic! I wimped out and made cupcakes without frosting.

  6. Your cake came out gorgeous!!! What a great pick. I decided to bake something else from the book today but will definitely make this one soon as I am a HUGE carrot cake fanatic.

  7. Sorry this wasn't the WOW experience you expected. I still say that Big Bill's carrot cake is the biggest wow I've had. Welcome to the family :)

  8. Hi Julie,

    Nice job on the cake. You know, the recipe I had from years back used baby food carrots and that's all I've ever known. I do prefer using grated carrots which I see on recipes lately.

    I think the cinnamon amount was increased because there was no coconut or pineapple. It did work out, surprisingly. I would agree with you that eating the cream cheese frosting with the cake made it a better biteful. The cake along needs more pizzaz.

    Love the flower on top...lovely!

    Have a great day!

  9. Julie, your cake looks delicious! Sorry the flavors were lacking for you =(. My hubby LOVED it =o) and I learned a few new pointers for myself.

  10. Your cake looks divine, Julie. I am sorry it did not pass your flavor test though. I think Maida Heatter has the best carrot cake recipe....although I think ALL her recipes are the best!

  11. I'd say your cake is anything but a failure this week Julie. It looks wonderful!! Thanks for hosting this week. I really enjoyed the carrot cake and after sharing with my neighbors, they agreed - this one is a keeper for us! :)

  12. Hey Julie I had to report back to you that the cake was a hit and I had three people ask me for the recipe at the pot luck! I shared a slice with my kids and we all inhaled's my new fav. from the SM cookbook! Im in l-o-v-e with it!!!

  13. Your carrot cake looks awesome. Cheers to you! I am still trying to get the courage up to bake layer cakes.

  14. Thanks for hosting this week! I love the cake that you chose! It was just so yummy from the compliments I got from my friends! Even though you didn't like it, everyone else loved it.

    Love the flower by the way!

  15. Thanks everyone for the awesome comments today! You all make hosting so fun!

    Just to clarify, I didn't dislike the cake but I didn't get the WOW factor I was searching for!

    Thanks again for being such great blogger friends!!

  16. thanks for hosting! i enjoyed trying another carrot cake recipe and really liked the frosting!

  17. Great looking cake, even if you weren't happy with the results.

  18. Julie, your cake looks so pretty! I remember my Mom saying the same thing to us as kids. :) The hubby and I really liked this cake. Maybe it's better as a smaller version. Great choice!

  19. Hi Julie, thanks for hosting this week! Your cake looks fabulous. Sorry your selection didn't really wow you; we enjoyed it at my house.

  20. Thanks for hosting, Julie. We really liked it, especially with my addition of orange zest to the batter. Sorry to hear this wasn't a favorite. Your cake looks very nice though. I love that bright colored flower on top! :o)

  21. Hi! I'm new here-just came over from Susans-Baking with Susan. Your carrot cake just fabulous!! I'm gonna add myself to follow your blog:) Feel free to come by and check us out as well-
    The Peppered Pantry~

  22. Thanks for hosting! That's a great looking cake.

  23. Btw, I answered your Q on my blog. Let me know if that makes sense. Thx!

  24. Hi Julie! Thanks for choosing a great recipe..I just joined, and was so excited to see carrot cake picked. Your cake looks beautiful and the recipe was so delicious :)

  25. Holy cow! Hello fellow NE blogger. I had yet to find any other Nebraskan's so that was fun to see! We're in Omaha for pharmacy school, so I'll have to try out the carrot cake at The Flatiron. Thanks for choosing the carrot cake! My co-workers definitely enjoyed my mini-version.

    Sorry that it took me so long to get back to you! I've been out of town and just got back home.

  26. Hi from Greece!!!I just crossed on your blog and I tkink it is a great one! I love carrot cake, and I will very soon make this one. I loved the orange sense on the frosting and I think it is a marvellous idea!!Many greetings from sunny warm Greece!


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