Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Bill's Big Carrot Cake

This week's TWD challenge was chosen by Amanda, and I was so excited because carrot cake is my favorite kind of cake in the entire world. (With the possible exception of some type of Napoleon cake that I had this past Sunday at my cousin's christening. Although I'm not sure that one counts as a cake since it was mostly just pastry cream... delicious pastry cream.)

[skip to recipe]

This marks my first ever attempt at a layer cake. I must admit that I was a bit apprehensive, but I scampered out to buy two more cake pans and get started. Dorie's recipe calls for either walnuts or pecans and either raisins or dried cranberries, so I went for the less traditional walnut/cranberry combo.

carrot cake layers

The cakes turned out better than I had hoped! They look a little crispier on the edges than the one in the book (maybe b/c my cake pans are dark colored), with less chunky ingredients... but I wanted to smother everything in icing anyway, so I figured it was OK :)

(mmm... cream cheese icing)
kitchen aid mixer

adding a new layer

I didn't have a leveler or anything, but they looked pretty flat to me, so I didn't trim the tops. After I finished icing, though, I think the layers kinda slid around on each other, so the cake skewed to one side (which I attempted to hide in the photos ;) )

adding a new layer

icing on the cake

Here is me being a total dork.


Ta-da! First layer cake complete :)

me with cake

The icing was definitely NOT enough to cover the entire cake, by the way. Dorie said that it was, but as you can clearly see, I was eking out every last bit of icing to get it all around this cake. In the book's picture, it just had the top iced and not the sides... Dorie claimed it would be enough for the sides, too, but next time I'll have to make some extra.

And the obligatory shots of the finished product....

cake after cutting

cake slice

This cake was truly delicious! It wasn't what usually comes to mind when I think of carrot cake, mostly because there were so many chunky ingredients, but it ended up being very moist and delicious. The slight lemon flavor in the cream cheese icing just brought it all together.

Bill's Big Carrot Cake

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Yields 10 servings


For the cake:

2 cups (284 g) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups (360 g) grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups (396 g) sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To make the cake:

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

To make the frosting:

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To assemble the cake:

Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.

Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.


This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it's good plain, it's even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.


The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it's firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.
--end recipe--

Head on over to the blogroll to check out everyone else's take on this yummy dessert!


Anonymous said...

Your layers look absolutely perfect! I can't believe it was your first layer cake - awesome job!

Amy said...

Yum! Looks awesome! Great Job!

Jayne said...

I agree with you about the frosting - next time I make this cake I'll make twice the frosting. Yours came out beautifully!!

mimi said...

your first layer cake? it came out gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Wow your layers are all so even! Amazing! I also have dark pans that make my cakes and breads kinda crispy on the edges (and sometimes burn them), I'm slowly replacing them though with lighter pans. I usually set the oven 25 degrees lower than the recipe states when I use the dark pans, it helps. Your cake looks beautiful! Congrats!

rebekka said...

YUM and GORGEOUS, and I can't believe that was your FIRST layer cake!

soulafa said...

Your cake looks great, nice work!!

Mary said...

your first layer cake looks amazing and how fitting it is also your favorite kind! way to go!

CB said...

I love all your photos. Gorgeous cake. But I'd say you have a little advantage being a photographer and all ;)
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I love the pictures of you dorking out with your cake, too cool! I'm also very much digging that swatch of multicolored gingham!

Melissa said...

Your layers look perfect! Congrats!

Chris said...

I clicked comment and Chelley's comment took the words right out of my mouth/fingers. :) Looks great!

kim said...

thanks everyone for your comments! :) i'm so glad you liked it! i must admit that the finished cake was actually much more lopsided than it looked in the pics (i only took pics of the good side ;) )

@juliatyler - thanks for the tip about the temperature, i'll have to try it next time! i actually weighed the batter to try to get the same amount in each pan... i know, huge dork.

@cb - thanks! i'm not a pro photographer (maybe someday...) but my baking/decorating inexperience is my handicap, hehe.

@mevrouw - thanks, the gingham was one of my dishtowels :)

steph- whisk/spoon said...

that is a fantastic first layer cake! you look like you've been icing for years!

Annemarie said...

It looks beautiful! Nice job!

Bumblebutton said...

What a perfect cake--especially on your first cake adventure! Your photos highlighted your most impressive technique! Great job.

LyB said...

Congratulations on your first layer cake, it looks absolutely delicious!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Wonderful that you made a layer cake for the first time. Great job!

Erin said...

Your cake looks great! Your layers are perfectly even!

Arfi Binsted said...

Kim that is luscious!! I love carrot cake!

Sharon said...

The layers look so great. The frosting seems to need be 1 and 1/2times the amount

Donna said...

You did a great job for your first cake! I love the bite shot! Must have been yummy!

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