Sunday, September 25, 2011

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting + a Tutorial!

When our friends D and J requested a carrot cake for their birthday party, I knew exactly which recipe to run to. This cake recipe is oil-based, which translates to SUPER moist and melt-in-your-mouth. Top it off with a smooth cream cheese frosting and you've got one tasty cake!

This recipe comes from Gram, my mom's mom. She is a petite, sweet lady with a chipper voice and a twinkle in her eye.
Now I am no expert at frosting a cake. Typically what goes down is something like this:
Smack a big plop of frosting on top
Smack a big plop of frosting on the side
Use a dinner knife to try and smooth out the mess
Lumpy frosting job.

No bueno.

But, guess who is an expert at frosting cakes... my momma. And guess who I called before I frosted this cake? Yes, my momma. With her expertise, I can say that I am proud of how this turned out! And... I'm going to share her knowledge with you at the end of this post!

What you need:
For the cake
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated carrots
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

For the frosting (best cream cheese frosting, ever.)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1 box confectioner's sugar (4 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

What to do:
Mix together oil and sugar until well combined, then add the eggs one at a time and mix until just combined.
Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to the wet ingredients alternately with the carrots.
Grease and flour 2 9" cake pans, then pour the batter into the prepared pans. *TIP* I like to grease the pan, then put a piece of parchment paper down in the bottom of the pan, grease the paper, then flour. This will guarantee that your cake will not stick to the bottom!
Bake at 300 degrees for one hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Mix together all icing ingredients and spread in between each layer and on top of the cooled cake layers.


How to frost a cake (successfully)!

Step 1: You MUST wait until the layers have cooled COMPLETELY. I always try to rush this, but you just can't.

Step 2: Place a small dap of frosting on your cake stand and place the first layer down. The bit of frosting will act as a glue to keep the cake in place. Cut out 3 triangle pieces of parchment paper and slide them under the first layer (see photo at left); this will prevent frosting from getting all over the cake stand :)

Step 3: Place about 1/4 cup of frosting on top of the first layer and smooth it out on the top surface, then place the second layer on top of the frosting.

Step 4: Make your "Crumb Coat". This simply means putting a thin layer of frosting all around the cake (see photo at left) to smooth out any holes/spaces, and get the crumbs put in place. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This coating provides a nice, even workspace for the remainder of the frosting process.

Step 5: Once the crumb coat has set, use an offset spatula or a sturdy plastic spatula (as seen in photos at right) to plop all remaining frosting on top of the cake. Slowly and carefully start smoothing out the frosting on the top of the cake, working it out to the edges and allowing the extra to fall off the top, onto the sides. You are looking for about 1/4 inch thickness of frosting.

Step 6: Use your spatula to smooth out the frosting that has fallen onto the sides. You may have to grab some more frosting from the top if there is not enough to cover the sides well. 
        a. Start by working the frosting in a downward motion, from top to bottom/bottom to top, all the way around the cake.
        b. Then, place your non-dominant hand on the bottom of the cake stand (as seen in photo at bottom right) and place your dominant hand with spatula at a 90 degree angle to the cake (see photo at bottom right). Using your hand on the cake stand, start rotating the cake stand, leaving your spatula in place and allowing the rotation to create a nice, clean, smooth edge on the sides of the cake.

Step 7: Remove the parchment paper and ooo and ahhh at your beautifully frosted cake!

I know that may seem lengthy, and maybe difficult, but don't let my description fool you! It really is quite simple. The key is to be patient! And do that crumb coat! 

Licking my fingers,


Anonymous said...

Once again the student surpasses the teacher =) This cake looks so good and most importantly so yummy!!!

HannahKey said...

Momma, this student will never surpass it's teacher! :) But I can try... haha

Love you.

bailey k. said...

love this! a lot of really good tips. go mom! :) you should totally link this up to my linky party!!