Not so long ago, in the days before web clipping apps and saving-everything-important-as-an-email-draft, I made a really excellent carrot cake. Regrettably, I have no idea where the recipe came from. It might have been one of those generic crowd-sourced recipe websites (I think)? I wanted to make a lemon meringue pie the other day and, what do you know, I didn’t save that recipe either. In typical twenty-something fashion, I’ve learned something new that every real adult already knows: if you want to remember what you made, you have to actually save the recipe somewhere. I’m still working on this “real adult” thing.
Second lesson learned: weighing ingredients makes a lot of sense. I’m not an obsessively precise baker but I’ve been reading the Flour cookbook by Joanne Chang pretty closely and she is a huge supporter of adding ingredients by weight rather than volume. The reasoning actually makes sense. Ingredients are packed differently depending on the manufacturer, and 1 cup of flour might not be the same quantity as 1 cup of flour from a different bag. She says the difference can be as much as 1/4 cup (!!). While making Joanne Chang’s carrot cake I actually went for it and weighed some of my ingredients. I don’t know if it made a difference but at least I don’t feel the guilt of that 1/4 cup lost or gained. We’ll see how long the habit lasts.
This cake was really excellent. Moist, carroty, nutty, and a good ratio of cake to frosting. Definitely give it a try when you’re sick of Christmas cookies.
Adapted from the Flour Cookbook by Joanne Chang
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
3 tbs buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tbs (160 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 cups (260 grams) shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
12 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 2/3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1. In a Cuisinart, shred carrots and set aside.
2. In a standing mixer, beat together sugars and eggs for about 4 minutes on a medium-high speed. Mixture should be thick and light-colored.
3. In a separate bowl, combine oil, butter milk, and vanilla. Add this mixture into the sugar/eggs and combine.
4. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients a little bit at a time. When combined, add shredded carrots and walnuts with a spatula and fold in.
5. Butter and flour 2 8-inch round cake pans. Add equal amounts of batter to each.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Check frequently for the top to be just spongey and for the cake to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let cakes cool for about 30 minutes before frosting.
To make the frosting:
In a mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add butter and combine. Add confectioners sugar. Frosting should be smooth and creamy.
Remove 1 cake from pan, frost top liberally. Add second cake on top, cover with remaining frosting.
You can add toasted walnuts to the top if you’re into that. Recruit your sister to do it artfully (she’s good at that sort of thing. Hi Rachael.)