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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

High Altitude Carrot Cake

And here's another (more traditional) carrot cake!

A few years ago, when my bigs were not quite as big, and my littles weren't around yet, the boys wanted to do some baking. We looked through Pie in the Sky, and they wanted to make this carrot cake. I found it a bit too oily the first time through, so when carrot cake was requested as a birthday cake, I reduced the oil slightly. This time, it was perfect; dense and moist, but not too much of either. Since then, it has been this boy's standard birthday cake request, whether he eats it or not. Granted, his birthday starts a treat-filled week at our house, with Halloween and two birthdays, but I have to say that uneaten birthday cake makes me want to just serve ice cream.

2015, he requested the cake but didn't eat any

2017, he ate a big slice and so did the rest of us

Sometimes we post sea level and high altitude variations. I'm just going with high altitude here, since I modified the oil amount and I don't know how that will affect the sea level recipe.


High Altitude Carrot Cake (~5,000 feet)

Adapted from Pie in the Sky: Successful Baking at High Altitudes by Susan G. Purdy
Yields one tube pan cake

(The recipe says it can be baked in a Bundt pan, too, but also instructs bakers at 5,000 feet and above to line the tube pan with greased parchment paper. So to prevent sticking, I'd recommend a tube pan.)

For the cake:
3 c peeled, grated carrots (6-10, depending on size)
1 c walnuts, chopped
1/4 c sunflower seeds, optional
1 1/4 c canola oil
2 c sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
2 T vanilla extract
1/4 c wheat germ or bran
2 c flour
1 1/2 teas baking soda
1 teas salt
2 teas cinnamon
3/4 teas nutmeg
1/2 teas ginger
1/2 teas allspice

For the frosting:

4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
pinch of salt
3/4 teas vanilla extract
2 c sifted powdered sugar, or as needed

Place the rack in the lower third of your oven, then preheat to 375F. Grease your tube pan with butter. Line the bottom of the greased pan with a ring of parchment paper, wax paper, or foil, then butter the liner. Flour the entire surface inside the pan and then tap out the extra flour.

In a large bowl, blend together the oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and wheat germ/bran with a whisk. Set a strainer over the bowl and measure the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices into it. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, and whisk gently until combined. Then stir in the carrots, nuts, and sunflower seeds.

Place the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is springy and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Leave the cake in the pan and set it on a wire rack to cool for at least 20 minutes. Then move a knife around the edge of the cake to help loosen it. Turn the cake out onto a plate or foil -covered cardboard disk. Peel off the paper, and let the cake cool completely.

As the cake cools, mix the frosting. Blend together the cream cheese and butter until very smooth and creamy; I used a hand mixer, but the original recipe recommends a food processor or electric mixer. Beat in the salt and vanilla, then gradually add the sugar, beating until smooth. Frost the cake and enjoy!

Note on frosting: A dusting of confectioner's sugar can be used instead. Also, I halved the original frosting recipe; double it if you are a big frosting fan.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Brazilian Carrot Bundt Cake

If your family needs more sweets in the coming week, here's a cake for Halloween. Although the cake isn't truly black and orange, it may be as close as one can come naturally. It nearly goes without saying that this can be baked any time of year.

As it stands, though, this cake will probably garner more adult fans since it isn't terribly sweet. Because it is another way to sneak a veggie into a treat, this recipe may be attractive to parents who bake. If you like something sweeter, consider adding chocolate chips to the batter or make the ganache with milk chocolate.


Brazilian Carrot Bundt Cake

Source:  Food52
Yield: one bundt cake

I'm including changes for my altitude (4000-6000 feet) in parentheses. 

I haven't tested this, but if you choose to add chocolate chips for kids or adults who like more sweetness, I'd add about a cup of chips shaken with a tablespoon of flour to help them remain afloat in the batter. 

For the cake:

2 c (270 g) 1/2 inch carrot slices from 3-4 carrots, scrubbed but not necessarily peeled 
3/4 c plus 1 T neutral oil, vegetable or grapeseed
3 large eggs
1 3/4 c sugar (high altitude--334 g or remove 2 T sugar)
1 3/4 c flour (high altitude--260 g or add 2 T flour)
1 1/2 teas baking powder (high altitude--1 1/4 teas)
1 teas salt, table or fine sea salt

For the ganache:

6 oz (1 c) bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 teas honey
7 T unsalted butter, in half-inch slices

Heat the oven to 425F and place the rack in the center. Butter and flour a bundt cake pan.

Place the carrots, oil, eggs, and sugar into a blender. Blend until smooth (if you think your blender will need some help getting the mixture smooth, consider chopping the carrots smaller than half inch slices). Mix the flour and baking powder in a large bowl and stir well. Pour the carrot mixture into the bowl and stir with a spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl, until no streaks of flour remain. If you want chocolate chips, add them now.

Place batter in the bundt pan. Pound the pan on a counter top a couple of times to remove any air bubbles. Put cake in the oven and bake for 5 minutes at preheated temperature and then lower the oven to 400F and continue baking for about 30 minutes. Test with a toothpick or cake tester and remove cake from the oven when the tester comes out clean or with a few crumbs.

Place on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes and then remove cake from the pan and allow to cool completely.

Place the chocolate, honey, and butter in a glass bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until you have a smooth mixture. It took about 3 repeats in my microwave. You may have to stir a few extra minutes after the last burst in the microwave to get remaining bits of chocolate to melt but it is better to spend time stirring than it is to overcook the chocolate. 

With the cake still on the cooling rack and over a baking sheet, spoon the ganache over the cake and let it sit until it has cooled before slicing and serving. I found the glaze was quite runny right after being microwaved so I repeatedly spooned over spots and attempted to cover all the cake. While it was still warm, I gathered glaze from the baking sheet and poured it on the cake. (There was still plenty of glaze left for a baker's treat.) If you prefer, you can just drizzle some glaze and leave some cake showing but in that case I recommend reducing the amounts in the ganache--possibly even halving the ingredients. 

The cake can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container--a large bowl can be inverted over a platter if you don't have a cake dome or carrier.