Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Carrot Honey Cake

Carrot Honey Cake

Carrot Honey Cake

My friend Liz needed a carrot cake recipe and gave me several guidelines: It had to be relatively simple (nothing fancy like pineapple or coconut), it couldn't require a food processor, and it needed to be appropriately sized for 4-5 people.

After I e-mailed her a few different recipes, I kept thinking why do I hate so many carrot cakes? All the store bought carrot cakes i've tried are oily, painfully sweet, and topped with those creepy, radioactive-orange carrots.

I like my carrot cakes simple, spicy, and lightly frosted. I prefer nut and raisin combinations to coconut and pineapple. I've only made this carrot cake though, so I figured it was time to start sampling a few other recipes.

I thought of Liz again when I read this Carole Walter recipe. It's the least labor intensive carrot cake recipe i've seen. I picked it for the orange zest, cardamom, and honey; these ingredients make the cake more interesting than usual. The zest gives the frosting a really fresh taste, and the cake itself is hearty without being greasy.

I took it to work around 9 and it was gone before noon. One of my co-workers laughed when I took a bite and exclaimed, "I really like this!" I was surprised. It was good.

Carrot Honey Cake
adapted from Carole Walter's Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More

3 large carrots (about 8 oz), peeled and trimmed
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (lightly packed) very fresh light brown sugar
1 tsp freshly grated navel orange zest
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup medium chopped toasted pecans
1 recipe cream cheese frosting

1. Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. Generously butter a 9x9x2 inch square pan and set aside (*you can also just line it with foil).

2. Shred the carrots. To shred in a food processor, fit the machine with the medium shredding disc. Cut the carrots into 1 inch chunks and place in the feeder tube. Shred using very light pressure. Remove the shredding disc and insert the steel blade. Pulse 4-5 times, then process for 5-6 seconds. You should have 1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cups. Set aside.

2. To shred by hand: finely shred the carrots using the smallest half-moon side of a box grater (scant 1/8 inch). You should have 1 1/2 to 1 2/3 cups. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. Set aside.

4. Place the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed, then add the granulated sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, taking 2-3 minutes. Add the brown sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, taking another 2 to 3 minutes, then beat in the orange zest.

5. Using a small whisk, mix together the oil, honey, and vanilla in a 1 quart mixing bowl, beating until the honey is thoroughly incorporated with the oil. Immediately pour into the egg/sugar mixture in a steady stream and beat well. Reduce the speed to medium-low and mix in the carrots. Add the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing only to blend after each addition. Scrape down the side of the bowl as needed. Then, quickly mix in the pecans. Note: This batter cannot stand before baking because the oil and honey will settle to the bottom of the bowl.

6. Immediately pour the batter into the prepared pan and baked for 40-45 minutes. The cake is done when it is firm to the touch, the sides begin to release, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting.

8. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a cooling rack. When the cake is cool, spread with the frosting, swirling it with the bottom of a soupspoon. Cut into 16 squares. Refrigerate for up to 7 days. The frosted cake may be frozen.

Cream Cheese Frosting

6 oz cream cheese, cold
6 oz butter, soft
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp freshly grated navel orange zest

Combine all the ingredients in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse 3-4 times, then process for 3-4 seconds. Stop the processor, scrape down the side of the bowl, and empty into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. (You can also make this in a bowl with a hand mixer).


Aran Goyoaga said...

This is the way I like my carrot cake, simple and with cream cheese icing. My recipe only has carrots and pecans and I love it. Well, it's not mine. I stole it from our Head Baker at the Ritz but I have adapted it to my taste so I call it mine. Anyhow, yours looks really good and I like that you made it square and the icing looks really pretty like that.
But what I like the most is the table! Is that your dining room table, kitchen table? Love it!

abe said...

hey now. those creepy, radioactive-orange carrots are important.

still. i love the presentation here.

Gretchen Noelle said...

I plan to try this. I like carrot cake but don't love it since I just haven't found a great recipe. Love the flavors in this one, so who knows!

slush said...

You did a gorgeous job on the frosting. Its lovely.

amanda said...

I love the use of honey in the cake with a slight reduction of sugar. I prefer natural sweets like honey in cake too because they give a nice moistness to the cake. Your pictures look great too

Helene said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe. Carrot cake is still my favorite.

Tartelette said...

Gorgeously perfect!!! I love the cream cheese frosting and the rustic feel of the picture. Great shot.

rhid said...

This sounds (and looks) like a stunning combinations - spicy with a great base of carrots and honey.

Shelly said...

I agree with the other poster. I like my carrot cake simple and with cream cheese icing.

Jen said...

I really enjoy reading your blog for inspiration and baking ideas.

I've been eying this cake for awhile and was wondering if its texture would do well as muffins/cupcakes?

Lisa Campbell said...

Hi Jen-

I've made this recipe as cupcakes one or two times. They always turn out great. If you're making cupcakes, check on the them 12-15 minutes into the baking time. They tend to finish faster.