I made this amazing carrot cake last week, when Easter was just around the corner and Easter eggs were everywhere. I know you’re supposed to make something with eggs or chocolate or little bunnies for Easter, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about this cake. It drove me crazy!
So I made it…
And guess what, I also came up with a perfectly good (?) reason as to why it was so important for me to make this cake. I think everyone remembers Santa? Well, each Christmas, millions of little kids try their hardest to make the best cookies they (their mothers really) can come up with. Paired with a cool glass of milk, they believe it’s the perfect snack for an old man who spends Christmas Eve flying around in a magical – yet roofless! – sleigh.
It’s probably not what I would crave after staying out all night in subzero temperatures, but that’s beside the point…
The point is, I figured, since Santa gets cookies, why not make the Easter Bunny a cake! A carrot cake! And not just any carrot cake… while we’re at it, let’s make it the best carrot cake there is with glorious cream cheese frosting!
I must admit I never really liked making carrot cake before I got my food processor (thanks boyfriend! You’re my sweetie!). I just hated grating the carrots by hand. However, you may love it. So even if you DO have a food processor, feel free to grate the carrots by hand if it makes you happy! If you don’t have a food processor and, like me, hate grating carrots, just channel the carrot-grating-force within you, turn on some energetic music (Mika’s ‘Grace Kelly’ always works for me) and grate away!
Just remember, whatever you do, try not to look at the giant mountain of ungrated carrots! It’s the same as hanging off a monstrous cliff by your fingernails and looking down at the ravine below. Just tackle the mountain one carrot at a time.
Or… just trick someone else in doing it for you. Just don’t tell them I ‘egged’ you on!
(This post is turning out to be more Easter-appropriate that I was hoping!)
By the way, I use stem ginger in this recipe. I’ve read somewhere that this is not a common ingredient in the USA, but it is basically young, peeled ginger that has been preserved in a sugar syrup.
If you can find it at your local supermarket, do try it! It adds a great sharp sweetness to the cake! However, if you cannot find it, just leave it out. The cake will still be great!
- 1 lime
- 6 pieces of stem ginger
- 3 eggs, divided
- 175g (or ¾ cup + 2 teaspoons, packed) light brown sugar
- 200ml (or ¾ cup + 4 teaspoons) sunflower oil
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 340g (or 2½ cups) finely grated carrots
- 225g (or 1¾ cup + 2 teaspoons) all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 200g (or 7 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 30g (or 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon of lime juice (from the lime used for the cake)
- 50g (or ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon) powdered sugar
- baby carrots for decorating, optional
- Preheat the oven to 175°C/350°F (standard oven setting). Butter a 24-cm (9-inch) round cake pan and line the bottom with baking parchment.
- Zest and juice the lime. There should be about three tablespoons of lime juice. Finely chop the stem ginger.
- Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites in a medium sized bowl until they're stiff. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the yolks with the sugar and (using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment) mix until well combined and lightened in color. At first there will seem to be too much sugar for the eggs to absorb, but as you keep mixing, the grainy, sugary mixture will become more liquid.
- Keep mixing and slowly drizzle in the oil. Whisk on high speed for one minute. It's great if your batter looks perfectly smooth and emulsified at this point, but if it doesn't just proceed to the next step and don't worry about it. It won't affect the final product.
- Add two tablespoons of lime juice (so there will be one tablespoon of lime juice left for the frosting), the lime zest, the chopped ginger, the cinnamon and the grated carrots (you don't need to squeeze the excess juice from the carrots). Stir the mixture with a hand whisk until all the ingredients are combined. If you keep using an electric mixer, the batter is likely to splash all over you and your kitchen, as the grated carrots will fling batter everywhere. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir until incorporated.
- With a rubber spatula, stir ⅓ of the beaten egg whites into the batter. You can be quite rough at this stage, as the first ⅓ of the egg whites just needs to loosen the batter in preparation for the rest. After you've incorporated the first ⅓ of egg whites, gently fold in the remaining ⅔, being careful not to knock out any of the air.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely. In the meantime make the frosting.
- Add the cream cheese, the butter and lime juice into a bowl and, using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat until combined and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and carefully stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Give it a final little whisk with the mixer and taste. I like my cream cheese frosting quite tangy, but if you prefer it a little sweeter, feel free to add more powdered sugar to taste.
- To decorate the carrot cake, scoop all the frosting in the middle of the cake and use a rubber or offset spatula to push the frosting to the sides of the cake. Cut the baby carrots in half (lengthwise) and arrange them in an artful (or not-so-artful) pattern. To make the carrots shine, you could glaze them with a little nut oil, but I decided to leave them plain.
Update (April 4, 2013):
Oh, oh I just suddenly remembered:
A bunny goes into a bakery and asks the baker in a squeaky, bunny-like voice, “Good morning, baker! Do you have a carrot cake?”
“I’m sorry,” answers the baker. “But I don’t sell it.”
The next day, the bunny returns to the bakery. “Good morning, baker! Do you have a carrot cake?”
Again, the baker shakes his head. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have it today.”
On the third day, the bunny walks into the bakery again, still requesting carrot cake. The baker again tells him that he doesn’t have one.
Because the baker is a nice guy – and because it is quite special to have a bunny walking into your store asking for carrot cake – the baker stays up all night comparing recipes and creating the perfect carrot cake for the bunny, should it turn up again.
And sure enough, the bunny walks into the store the following day. “Good morning, baker! Do you have a carrot cake?”
The baker smiles and proudly nods his head. “As a matter of fact, I do!”
The bunny makes a face and says: “Eeuw, carrot cake is so gross!!”
Oh well… I just have to eat the cake myself then.
Ritu gupta says
All your cakes look decadent. Just read your post on buttercream and it was very helpful. Thank you for such a detailed information.
I was wondering if you have a similar post for cream cheese frosting. My cream cheese frosting is always runny and not pipable. Maybe because i dont use philadelphia cream cheese because its very expensive where i live. Any advice on how to make it firm and pipable?
Thanks so much,
The Tough Cookie says
Hi Ritu, I never use Philadelphia cream cheese in my cream cheese frosting because I don’t like the taste of it, so that can’t be it I think. I’m planning on doing a post on cream cheese frosting in the future, but it might take me a while to get around to it. However, if you like a thicker cream cheese frosting, you can consider adding more powdered sugar to it, or using a mixture of butter and cream cheese instead of just cream cheese. This too will make the frosting a bit thicker. Hope this helps for now!