carrot cake.

hey, it’s april!

be sure to check out my featured post this month on sarah hearts, darlings!

spring is right around the corner! here in florida, we’ve been getting our fare share of april showers, although they arrived a few days early. hopefully that means that beautiful sunny days and lovely flowers will arrive that much sooner!

when i think of springtime, inevitably i think of easter. growing up in north dakota, i was the only jewish child in my entire elementary school. crazy, huh? when it came to major holidays, i always felt a little left out. my parents were awfully supportive, and they invented a few ‘faux’ holidays to help me feel not so out of the loop. one of those ‘faux’ holidays was bunny day.

bunny day was a celebration of a certain spring bunny with a penchant for giving children baskets of treats and hiding plastic eggs full of candy on the lawn. sounds eerily similar to another springtime celebration, no? that’s what my parents were going for; they wanted me to have the fun of the holiday with the other kids, and i always appreciated that. it felt nice to not be left out of holiday parties and celebrations in school.

one of the things we always had on bunny day was carrot cake, naturally. my parents always said that carrot cake was a favorite of bunnies, and the best way to celebrate bunnies on their big day was to eat their favorite kind of cake!

i’ve been baking carrot cakes, not always for bunny day for a while now. my favorite version keeps it very simple, and very focused on the star ingredient. i’ve tried lots of different versions that include nuts, coconut, pineapple…they’re delicious in their own right, but nothing can beat the classic, simple carrot cake.

rather than mask the subtle sweetness of the cake with a too-sweet cream cheese frosting, i used a swiss buttercream, which is lighter on the sugar and a creamy, light texture. i added mascarpone cheese, a grown-up, slightly more sophisticated take on the classic cream cheese frosting. finally, i candied some carrot strips, baked them in the oven to dehydrate them, and crumbled them on the sides of the cake. they’re surprisingly sweet and flavorful, and add a great textural note to this dessert.

for this recipe, i made large, king-sized cupcakes and sliced them to create miniature layer cakes. this method yielded eight cakes, but this recipe will also yield you 24 standard-sized cupcakes, or one eight-inch layer cake with three layers.

whether you celebrate easter, or bunny day, or just want to make something delicious, this carrot cake is the perfect springtime treat!

carrot cake

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

for the candied carrots
7-8 whole carrots, scrubbed clean
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

for the carrot cake
1 pound carrots, shredded
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup applesauce (make your own!)
1/2 cup oil
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (i love vietnamese cinnamon!)

for the mascarpone swiss buttercream
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

Directions:

for the candied carrots

peel strips from carrot lengthwise on one side with peeler to make wide slices.

bring water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. add the carrot strips and simmer for 15 minutes uncovered.

drain the strips in a colander and let stand for 15 minutes.

preheat oven to 225 degrees F.

on a parchment-lined sheet pan, lay the carrot strips flat in one layer. bake for 50 minutes, or until crisp and dehydrated. remove from the oven and let cool completely.

once cooled, break the strips into small pieces and reserve in an airtight container. this can be done up to five days in advance.

for the cake

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

combine carrots, buttermilk, oil, applesauce, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in a bowl. set aside.

in a separate bowl, combine whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.

fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture, taking care not to overmix.

if baking in king-sized cupcake tins, bake 24-27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

if baking in standard cupcake tins, bake 19-21 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

if baking 8" layers, bake 22-26 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

allow to cool completely before frosting.

for the mascarpone swiss buttercream

combine egg whites and sugar in a metal bowl set atop a saucepan of simmer water on the stove. whisk constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is 120 degrees F. remove from heat.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, pour the sugar and egg white mixture in.

whip at medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until the temperature of the bowl is cool to the touch and the egg whites are thick and glossy medium peaks.

with the mixer on medium-low, begin adding pats of butter to the whipped egg whites, waiting about 5-10 seconds between additions before adding more.

once all of the butter is incorporated, add the vanilla and mascarpone, and whip an additional 30 seconds. set aside.

assembling the cake or cupcakes

if making cupcakes, frost the cupcakes as you would normally and sprinkle with candied carrot bits.

if making a cake, place a small amount of frosting between each cake layer, taking care not to spread the frosting all the way to the edges.

spread a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake, and place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes. this will help firm up the crumb coat.

remove the cake from the freezer and frost generously with remaining frosting, and sprinkle the candied carrot bits on the sides, and the top if you like.

the cake will keep in the fridge for up to five days, as long as it's covered well.

cake recipe adapted from simply recipes; candied carrot recipe from epicurious

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7 Responses to “carrot cake.”

  1. #
    1
    kelly g — April 21, 2011 at 6:50 am

    i ate this! and it was yum! the candied carrots are sososososososo awesome

  2. #
    2
    jaclyn — April 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    thanks, kelbel! i’m glad you loved it!

  3. #
    3
    Mina — June 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I found your food blog a couple of weeks ago and am simply in awe.

    After a little dilemma trying out your wonderful orange chocolate scones (I wasn’t aware that whole wheat flour also exists in a salty version and unfortunately grabbed that one..) I used this recipe to make a carrot cake and am so delighted.
    Especially the instructions on how to make the buttercream and applesauce are simply divine.

    Thank you for being such an inspiration, you brought back good old memories.

  4. #
    4
    jaclyn — June 7, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    oh my gosh, thank you so much for the sweet comment! you totally made my day! i definitely try to make nostalgic, delicious things that are simple to prepare but showstoppers to serve! you’re the best!

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