Friday, February 22, 2013

Easy Layered Carrot Cake

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I'm on a cake roll! Last week I shared a Bananas Foster Cake recipe using an easy technique of baking the cake as one thin layer on a baking sheet as opposed to baking in traditional cake pans. Using the same technique, this Easy Layered Carrot Cake is what really sparked the whole idea of making easy layer cakes. A tender spice cake is swirled with shredded sweet carrots and studded with golden raisins with alternating layers of tangy cream cheese frosting. How could anyone say no to a slice of this?!...

If you ask The Baron, he says the only reason why one should have cake at all is because it serves as a vehicle for frosting. He's definitely a frosting type of guy and he especially enjoyed taste testing  the frosting before using it on the cake! I will have to say that when it comes to this cake, I'm torn between what I like better - cake or frosting.

The cake is perfectly spiced and the shredded carrots and raisins add just the right amount of sweetness. With the tender crumb and how easy it was to layer, I really liked how this cake turned out - even as gluten free. As for the frosting, it had this wonderful tang, thanks to the use of powdered buttermilk. That made all the difference and it was especially creamy, smooth and so easy to use on the cake.

What's your favorite part of cake - the cake itself or the frosting?!


Easy Layered Carrot Cake

recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated
            


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour or 245 grams gluten free flour blend + 1 teaspoon xanthan gum*

2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar (8-3/4 ounces)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup golden raisins


Set a rack to the middle of your oven and preheat to 350-degrees. Grease an 18”x 13” rimmed baking sheet, line it with parchment paper, and then grease the parchment paper too.  
In a medium bowl, add together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves. Whisk together until combined.

In another large bowl add sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Use a whisk to combine until smooth. Gently stir in carrots and raisins with a rubber spatula until evenly distributed. Finally, add in flour mixture and fold in with your rubber spatula, but only until it is just combined.


Transfer batter onto baking sheet. Use an offset spatula to smooth surface and ensure the batter is an even depth. Bake for about 15 minutes, rotating half-way through baking, until the center is firm when touched.


Allow cake to cool for 5 minutes in pan set on a wire rack. Flip the cake onto a wire rack then immediately re-flip back onto a second wire rack. The cake should be resting with the parchment side down. Allow the cake to cool for another 30 minutes.

Frosting ingredients:

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature (2 sticks)

3 cups confectioners’ sugar (12 ounces)

1/3 cup buttermilk powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces cream cheese (1-1/2 packages), cold & cut into 1 tablespoon portions
2 cups chopped walnuts, lightly toasted (8 ounces)

While the cake is cooking, toast your pecans and chop them coarsely. Cut your cream cheese into 12 equal-size pieces, but keep it refrigerated until you are ready to use in step 3.

Add the butter, sugar, buttermilk powder, vanilla extract and salt to the bowl of a standing mixer. 



Mix using the paddle attachment on low-speed for 2 minutes; scrape down the bowl as necessary.
Increase mixer speed to medium-low, then add cream cheese one piece at a time. Mix for 2 minutes until the frosting is smooth.




To Finish:
Put cooled cake on a cutting board and cut into equal halves cross-wise. Cut length-wise so that you have 4 equal pieces, measuring about 6″x8″ each.
Cut out a 6″x8″ rectangle out of stiff cardboard. Put the first of the cake piece on the cardboard. Use a spatula to spread 2/3-cup of frosting over layer. Repeat with two more layers.


Place the final cake layer on top. Remove any crumbs from your spatula and frost the top with a 1-cup of frosting.

Frost the sides of the cake with your remaining frosting. You just need enough frosting to hold the chopped pecans, not completely hide all the crumbs.

Holding the cake with one hand, use your other hand to gently press the chopped walnuts onto the side of your cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.


*Gluten free flour blend:
This is the best combination for my personal uses and has never failed me. I purchased a majority of the ingredients at an Asian market (at less than $.99/lb) and the other ingredients marked were Bob Red Mill brand. Cornstarch was Argo brand.

300 grams superfine brown rice flour (Bob's Red Mill)
250 grams sweet rice flour (Asian market)
150 grams tapioca flour (Asian market)
100 grams sorghum flour (Bob's Red Mill)
100 grams potato starch (Asian market)
100 grams cornstarch (Argo brand)


Whisk together the above flours and store in an air tight container. To use, measure out 140 grams for every cup called for in your favorite baking recipe (NOT yeast bread recipes.) Add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum for every cup used in the recipe as well to help with texture and binding. Voila! You can bake gluten free with confidence!
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