Sunday, October 30, 2011

Labor of Love - Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

For every holiday or any day remotely resembling a holiday, I try to find an excuse to make cake or a special dessert.  Today my boyfriend and I celebrated our second anniversary, which made a tiny cake a good bet.  Also, I love things in miniature, and to be practical, they're more likely to be structurally sound.  Over the summer, his family went to Disney World and he brought back for me a Mickey Mouse sandwich cutter (have you heard of these?  I thought it was for cookies) and an adorable Perry the Platypus plush, from the show Phineas and Ferb.  The cutter was the perfect size for a tiny cake :)

This is about a quarter of the cake that I used, a half of a horizontal layer.

Since he likes carrot cake, I decided to try and make one, with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.  I borrowed a recipe from 17 and Baking, with a couple of changes.  The original cake was called Ginger Carrot cake, but I lacked ginger.  Also, I'm not so sure that boyfriend is fond of ginger.  In any case, he likes cinnamon, so that's what I put in both the cake and the frosting.  I also cut the recipe in half, and not wanting to have an egg left over (the recipe calls for 3 eggs), I skipped the buttermilk and tossed in two eggs.  The resulting cake is soft, sweet and spicy, but doesn't taste a lot like carrots.  Actually, I'm not sure it's supposed to.  I've seen several recipes for carrot cake that call for flaked coconut and crushed pineapple, but I didn't like the idea of competing flavors.  Perhaps typical carrot cake contains more than just carrot?  

Started with this....

One poor carrot reduced to shreds...

The whole pile of carnage, an hour and 2 callouses later.  I don't feel sorry for the carrots anymore.

The assembly of the cake was interesting.  I baked the cake in a loaf pan, which worked out just about perfectly for the Mickey Mouse cutter.  I trimmed the edges of the cake, then cut it in half.  I split the cake into two layers horizontally, then cut out each layer of the cake with the cutter.  I frosted between each layer and frosted to cover the cake.  My boyfriend did say that the cream cheese overpowered the cake, so next time I'd only leave the frosting between the layers for support.  I also increased the amount of cinnamon in the frosting, since it was a little lost in all the cream cheese.  Overall, a yummy, but plain, cake to enjoy :)

Ooh, snacks for later!

Carrot Cake adapted from 17 and Baking, adapted from Martha Stewart Living
Makes 1 9" x 5" loaf or 1 8" or 9" round cake

½ lb. carrots, peeled and grated (I used baby carrots from the school food court.  Sigh.)
2 large eggs (room temperature) 
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large mixing bowl
1 rubber spatula
½ teaspoon measure
1 teaspoon measure
½ cup dry measure
1 cup dry measure
2-cup liquid measure
1 9" x 5" loaf pan or 8" or 9" round pan
Parchment paper to line pan or butter and flour to grease


1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.  Butter and flour or line with parchment your baking pan.

2. Mix together the carrots, eggs, vanilla extract, sugar and oil.  Fold in about half the flour, then the baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Fold in the rest of the flour, mixing only until there are no streaks of flour.

3. Pour into your prepared pan, and bake at 300°F for 60 minutes if using a round pan and about 75 minutes if in a loaf pan.  Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean.  It's also interesting to note that when the cake isn't done, there's no resistance when you put in the toothpick.  When it is done, there's a dense sort of texture resisting the entrance of the toothpick.  Yup, been baking consistently for about 4 or 5 years now, and just noticed this :)

Cream Cheese Frosting straight from the flames of It's on Fire
Makes about ½ cup or so (sorry, I didn't measure this)

4 oz. (half a block) cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature (add a tiny pinch of salt if using unsalted)
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 small mixing bowl
1 wooden spoon
1 rubber spatula
Alternatively, use a stand mixer and a rubber spatula (less arm fatigue for you!)


Beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the sugar to taste, beating until smooth each time.  Add the vanilla and cinnamon, also to taste.

Assemble and serve.  Enjoy! 

Four tilting layers of delicious cinnamon and cream cheese!  Carrot is shy in this cake.

Share with a loved one <3