Well, I've still got some mild sniffles and it took a few days for me to be able to use my hand again without too much pain, but I'm happy to report that I'm better now. You don't realize how much you grasp things in day to day life until you lose the ability to do so (I wasn't even able to turn a door knob or start my car engine!). So needless to say, I'm happy to be back in the kitchen and baking again :) Thank you to all who left me comments with get well wishes.
This week's Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) recipe was chosen by Amanda of Slow like honey: Bill's Big Carrot Cake. Who's Bill you ask? Apparently he was one of Dorie's friends. Not a baker, but a jeweler... with a recipe so good that Dorie calls it "perfect."
I did run across a small problem with this cake. My layers sunk quite a bit in the middle. I'm not sure exactly why. Initially they were only slightly sunken, but after I opened the oven midway through baking to rotate the cake pans, they seemed to sink even more. So I had to even out my cakes with a serrated knife before assembling the whole cake. As a result, the layers wouldn't have looked as pretty if I had only frosted between the layers (as depicted in the cookbook) so I frosted the entire cake and the decorated it with toasted coconut.
Thanks Amanda, for picking this week's recipe. I've been curious to try this recipe. While it was indeed a very good carrot cake, I think I will stick to the Pastry Queen's recipe. Make sure you check out the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll to see everyone else's beautiful cakes.
Bill's Big Carrot Cake
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ 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) (I bought a 10 oz bag of pre-shredded carrots and it was enough)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (I omitted these)
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries (I used cranberries)
2 cups 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:
(I used a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even out my cake layers before assembling 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.
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.
Storing: 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.
Yield: 10 servings