Sunday, April 10, 2011

Carrot Cake

This week I am going in to my kid's preschool class to make a carrot cake with them for their Easter Party. I had to do a test run before my big appearance at school, especially since I wasn't making the normal cream cheese frosting so I could make it safe for my own kid. I was hesitant to use tofutti cream cheese, although very acceptable in our own house I thought it would take away from the carrot cake at school. Although I wound up using Pilsbury Cream Cheese frosting (a little unnerving that there is no actual dairy in the frosting by the way) and used some extracts to jazz it up.

I am not a huge fan of carrot cake, I went through a phase for about a year when I was a kid that I loved it, but it was short lived and now only make it per request. The carrot cake I am sharing with you today won't be an "on request only"- it was delicious!

Carrot Cake cooling in pan
Getting ready to get frosted
Frosted, with experimental sugar work (using a cookie cutter to outline)

It's not often that I am baking a cake "just cause" and since the leftovers of this one were destined to feed my husband's staff at the restaurant I took the liberty to experiment. Using a flower cookie cutter and a circle cookie cutter I used color sugar to make a flower as a "decoration". Perhaps I will make a wax paper cutout of a bunny, carrot, or easter egg to make with the kids at school.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

makes twenty-four 2-inch squares
For the Cake                                                   
3 cups all-purpose flour                                  
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder                        
1 teaspoon baking soda                                     
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon                     
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg*                            
¼ teaspoon ground cloves*
½ teaspoon salt
8 peeled carrots
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 cups applesauce
1 ½ cups canola oil
1 cup currants or semisweet chocolate chips
*I actually use my "secret ingredient" Chinese Five Spice instead

For the Frosting
½ cup butter, at room temperature
½ cup cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract

For the Cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Shred the carrots in a food processor using a shredding blade. Place the carrots on top of the combined dry ingredients. DO NOT MIX TOGETHER!

Wipe out the food processor bowl and add the metal blade. Process the granulated and dark brown sugars, applesauce, and canola oil until well combined.

Pour the sugar mixture into a mixing bowl. Add carrots and dry ingredients and, using an electric mixer, mix on medium speed. Add your choice of currants or chocolate chips to the batter and mix on low speed to distribute evenly. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and continue mixing until well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. (If you found the carrots “watery” when shredding, extra baking time may be required) Test by inserting a toothpick into the middle to make sure cake is done.

Cool the cake in the baking pan. Cooled cake may be removed from or left in the baking pan.
Frost with cream cheese frosting.

For the Frosting
In a bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and lemon extract on medium speed until well combined. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. Mix until smooth and creamy.
Store the frosting, covered, in the refrigerator, until ready to spread on cooled cake.

In other Easter Party preparations there is an Egg Drop the day of the Easter Party. Prizes for Most Creative, Most Recyclable, Most Scientific, and Biggest Splat. Here's our entry:
Used a carvable foam egg, white feathers, white and pink pompoms, glittered foam, black pipe cleaners, and jiggly eyes
Carved a hole in the back for the egg, filled with bubble wrap and edible Easter grass as a nest for the egg
Our Egg will be dyed blue and made into a little blue bird- I wanted a chick, but my kid said blue is his favorite color, so bluebird of happiness it is!

Made the parachute from a floral patterned vinyl tablecloth
He actually floated down during his test flights- a real miracle!

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