Sunday, July 27, 2008

Carrot Cake Dorie Style -- and a fondant version

I finally got around to that carrot cake I kept promising myself. I thought really hard about doing my regular Pastry Queen version, but in the end I opted to try Dorie's version. Both cakes are very good, Pastry Queen wins points for using coconut milk and pineapple, but Dorie's is traditional and incredibly moist and flavorful.

After my last gloppy, gooey mess of cream cheese frosting I read a few blogs on the subject and the consensus seemed to be that for a frosting that is pipe-able and doesn't run all over the place, the butter should be at room temp, but the cream cheese should still be cold from the fridge. I had my doubts that it could really be that simple, but sure enough, it was that simple. Just that one little change and I had frosting that was thick and creamy and smoothed out beautifully.

I also loved the flavor of the Dorie frosting with the hint of lemon. I actually opted to use a 1/4 tsp of lemon oil rather than lemon zest or juice for my flavoring and it was just the perfect amount of citrus flavor to bring out and balance the rich, sweet frosting.

I made two 8x2 cakes for one layer, and then two 6x2 cakes for Chris to cover in fondant. He used the fondant recipe from Cake Journal which he said worked and tasted great, however, when he rolled it out to cover the cake it picked up all the hard little bits that were stuck to the countertop. We're not quite sure what was up with that, but it marred the surface of the otherwise gorgeous cake. *sigh* Chris also dyed some marzipan green and orange for the finishing touches on this cake -- and of course did 99% of the work decorating the fondant version.

For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups 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)
1/2 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, cold
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract or 1/4 tsp lemon oil
1/2 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.


burkie said...

you'll have all the rabbits in the couty bouncing your way :)
they both look good enough to eat, i have to say. perishable art, indeed :)

Anonymous said...

The fondant version is so cute! Almost makes me want to eat it, and I'm not a fan of carrot cake.