Monday, October 17, 2005

Zen Buddhism Isn't Always So Stuffy

This is a carrot cake from a recipe book that I got at a Zendo in the Catskill Mountains. I was there for a shiatsu seminar and the place is amazing--so beautiful! The chef had a reputation for being a great cook, and he wrote a cookbook which I ended up buying. In the dessert section he has this recipe for a healthier carrot cake. So I decided to try it out. Its pretty tasty, and really decadent. Not that we had carrot cake when we were there. There wasn't anything so fancy when we were there; still the food was excellent.

August 29, 2004
Green Corn Full Moon Ceremony
Coconut-Pecan Carrot Cake
3 layers coconut-pecan carrot cake (recipe from 3 Bowls)
filled and frosted with orange-cream cheese frosting

Okay, dumbass, a 9 x 13 inch pan is the big rectangular pan….the same amount of batter that will fill that will fill two round 9 in cake pans. So next time you decide you want to make a 2 layer carrot cake based on the recipe from 3 Bowls, you don’t have to double the batter!!

Hence, I am making a four layer carrot cake.

I used half graham flour and half WWPF [whole wheat pastry flour](supposed to use all WWPF) and the cakes rose quite nicely, smell good, aren’t sinking as they cool (keep your fingers crossed).

For a recipe from a zendo, this cake really gilds the lily. We got toasted coconut, toasted pecans, carrots, cinnamon, vanilla, orange zest, whole wheat, honey, maple syrup…good lord, sensory overload yet? But I am very excited to see what this cake tastes like.

Next I need to figure out how much frosting I am going to need to make. Doubling the batch from the book probably won’t be enough, but of course, I don’t know how much one batch will make. Enough to frost a 9 x 13 in cake obviously. But if we are talking a four layer carrot cake, that’s three layers of filling, and each layer is usually about ¾ cup of frosting, and so we are already talking 2 ¼ cups…right? I suck so bad at math. Maybe I will fill it and frost the top, but leave the sides bare. Just to not overdo it. Like I haven’t done that already.

This cake takes a lot of prep time. You have to toast the coconut and the pecans and the wheat germ. You have to zest the oranges, grate the carrots…oi. (and when you’re a dumbass and double the recipe, you have to do a lot more of each)
Some cool things to know:
One standard orange will yield about 2 tsp of grated zest
One 24 oz jar of applesauce will yield 2 ½ cups (dry cups)
One typical sized jar of honey is a little more than 1 ¼ cups
The cakes are super moist; they felt underdone when the time was up and the cake tester came out clean and they were beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. So keep that in mind; they won’t spring back like a butter cake would but when they begin to pull away from the pans and its been about 40 minutes, they are done.

I am a little surprised how nicely they rose, considering there’s no butter-baking powder reaction to poof up the cake. (that’s the reaction, right?) And I didn’t meringue the eggs or anything like that either. In fact, I didn’t even pull out the mixer. Too lazy. I beat it all up with the lovely balloon whisk which seemed to have done a great job. So, the question is, is it really all about the baking powder and the pans?

The next two cakes are baking in my air bake pans: the not as great ones that take a little longer to bake up than the regular aluminum pans that unfortunately I love because they work so well. So perhaps that will give me a clue as to the preceding question—is it all about the baking powder and the pans?

Well, they seemed to have risen quite nicely as well, but maybe not as high…nope, not as high. The cakes from the air bake pans are ¼ in shorter than the cakes from the aluminum pans. So, the pans will influence the height of the cake.

There are equal amounts baking powder to baking soda in this cake, probably b/c of the applesauce? I couldn’t figure it out. Maybe that is helping the cake to rise so nicely, considering I didn’t have any butter and sugar to cream and I didn’t use the mixer to incorporate tons of air and I didn’t whip up the eggs into an airy mass and I used coarse flours (incl wheat germ!). But I did sift the dry ingredients a couple of times! Its just like The Sphinx, it goes right up to the point of being confusing. Terribly mysterious.

Seppo says to grease the pans, but I went ahead and floured them too. I am glad I did that. Would have been helpful to have lined the bottoms of the pans with parchment. As much as I dislike that step. The first 2 layers of cake didn’t really stick to the bottom of the pans, but they did a little. Parchment paper. The very last cake I unmolded stuck to the pan. Like really stuck to the pan. It came out in two pieces; not too disastrous. So yeah. Two words (say it with me, kids!): parchment paper.

do i talk too much? it’s my cake journal.

I am soo tired, its 2:35 am, I am going to go to bed. I don’t think the cakes will dry out overnight; they are so moist! I am not waiting for them to cool completely so I can wrap them airtight. I am going to bed and leaving them on the counter to finish cooling. Goodnight to you.

(8/30) I am not so excited about the cream cheese frosting. Its too cream cheesy. And I upped the honey quotient and the vanilla and orange quotients and its still just too cream cheesy. And I doubled the batch and it made just under four cups of frosting. Not enough to fill and frost a four layer cake. Not even enough to fill and top a four layer cake. So I have a three layer cake that is filled and topped. Good enough. But still displeased about that frosting. We’ll see how it holds up tonight. What the peeps and homies say.

They loved it. But I am not so pleased. But I’m glad the Cake Whore [that was my prototype name; abandoned it for evil cake lady] came through yet again.

(9/8) kinda creepy…but I’ve still got part of the abandoned cake layer in the fridge and it hasn’t spoiled yet! Wiggy!


  1. I want some carrot cake! Hey does the Evil Cake Lady make evil zuchini bread? I know this isn't cake, but also--gnocchi?
    It has flour in it! C'mon!

  2. Evil zucchini bread....I haven't made that in years...I made a fabulous pumpkin bread once. If you make the gorgonzola cream sauce, I bet I could figure out how to make the gnocchi....

  3. Dude. I am the Vicious Queen of Sauce.
    No shit!
    Done deal!!

  4. It all sounds so tasty.