Wednesday, April 4, 2012
I regret never having had a chance to visit The Fiddlehead Café during its years of operation in Juneau, Alaska. Their cookbook is full of good recipes, but the desserts are what make this book really shine. The carrot cake recipe contained within it has been a favorite of ours for many years. The flavor is complex, and the cake is incredibly moist. I’ve made a few modifications throughout the years, and this is just how we like it. Cooking the carrots before adding them to the batter really brings out their sweetness.
I’ve wanted to deconstruct this into cupcakes for ages; last weekend I finally did so. You’ll notice the baking directions cover a two layer cake, and cupcakes.
Eighteen Carat Cake
Adapted from The Fiddlehead Cookbook, by Nancy and John DeCherney, Deborah Marshall, and Susan Brook
1 ½ cups diced carrots (3 medium carrots, 8 to 10 ounces)
2 ½ cups unbleached white flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened finely flaked dried coconut
¾ cup drained, canned, unsweetened pineapple
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ½ cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Generously coat two 9-inch cake pans, or two twelve capacity muffin tins with oil and dust with flour. Preheat the oven to 350F, and arrange racks such that they are evenly spaced in the oven.
Place the carrots in a small glass bowl with one tablespoon water. Cover tightly, and microwave for about 6 minutes, until quite tender. (Alternatively, simmer in a small covered saucepan at medium heat until quite tender.) Using a food processor or food mill, puree the carrots. You should end up with about 1 cup of puree. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Gently stir the liquid ingredients into the sifted ingredients. Just before everything is fully combined, fold in the coconut, carrots, and pineapple until just combined.
Divide the batter into the cake pans, and bake for 30-35 minutes. Rotate the pans from the top to the bottom rack once during baking, and bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
If you’re making cupcakes, bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool the cakes briefly in their pans, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
To prepare frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until smooth. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar, and mix on low speed until fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, and mix until fully incorporated.
To assemble cake: Place one layer of the cake, top side down, on the back side of a cake pan. Spread the top with 2/3 to ¾ cup frosting. Set the next layer on the cake, also top side down. Frost the cake, filling in between the layers. Chill briefly to set the frosting, then transfer to a cake plate.
Note: The cake layers can be made a day in advance. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and store them at room temperature. The assembled cake can be prepared a day before serving. Store it in the refrigerator, covered, and allow it to come to room temperature before serving.
Yield: 1 9-inch, 2 layer cake, or 24 cupcakes