Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Classic Carrot Cake with Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting

So this week's Heavenly Cakes Bake-through was the Red Fruit Shortcake. I decided to go rogue and not make it this week, despite not having made it yet. After mentioning in my comment on Jenn's LCNC that raspberries aren't around these parts yet so my red Fruit Shortcake would be basically a strawberry shortcake I got a little bummed out. Not that there's anything wrong with a strawberry shortcake, but the recipe calls for strawberries AND raspberries, and I would like to try that.

So I went in a different route and decided to bake another cake on my list--but not on Jenn's--and went for the carrot cake, mainly because the dreamy cream cheese frosting sounds appealing. But isn't that why people like carrot cake--for the cream cheese frosting?

Classic Carrot Cake with Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Fosting

June 26, 2011
Name of Cake: Cream Cheese Frosting and stuff
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: two 9 inch layers carrot cake (no raisins, no nuts) filled and frosted with dreamy creamy etc. frosting

My go-to carrot cake recipe is this gilded lily made with toasted coconut, toasted pecans, orange zest and of course, carrots. It is also sweetened with maple syrup and honey, and instead of butter it calls for applesauce. I've made it gluten free as well as with white flour or whole wheat pastry flour. It is a good, glossy, and sturdy cake and has been well received. However I am not totally attached to it so I was looking forward to trying Rose's version.

(Here is a link to the Gluten Free version of my go-to carrot cake. If you like gluten, just sub in equal amounts of whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour, and omit the xanthan gum.)

Classic Carrot cake with Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Fosting
Add the carrots...

I think Rose's carrot cake might mix up the fastest of any cake in the book. The sugars and oil are mixed for one minute in the mixer, then the dry ingredients are mixed in until incorporated (about 20 seconds), then the carrot is added and mixed for 12 seconds. And, finished. In less than two minutes the cake is ready to bake. That is fast!!

Classic Carrot cake with Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Fosting
...and 12 seconds later you've got this

The dreamy creamy etc frosting is Rose's take on cream cheese frosting: hers includes a large amount of white chocolate, not quite two bricks of cream cheese, a little butter and a tiny bit of creme fraiche or sour cream. I decided to do my usual full fat yogurt substitute for the sour cream, but this time used a greek-style yogurt which is thick and creamy like sour cream. Yum!

The white chocolate is melted over a double boiler then everything is blended in the food processor. And then it is ready!

Classic Carrot cake with Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Fosting

I found the cake and frosting not so great the first day--the flavors were disjointed and disappointing. After an overnight rest in the refrigerator, however, everything changed. The cake was moist with a slightly rough crumb due to all the grated carrot, and the flavor was unusually subtle for carrot cake: a little bit of cinnamon is all. Same thing with the frosting--instead of hitting you over the head with the tang of cream cheese and the sharp sweetness of powdered sugar, this frosting was slightly tangy, slightly sweet, really creamy, and light instead of dense.

Classic Carrot Cake with Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Fosting

I shared this cake with several people and it was universally loved by all. Coleen especially was taken by the cake, and she was the one who pointed out that because the frosting wasn't as aggressive as typical cream cheese frosting, the cake didn't need a shitload of spices to compete. This cake, to me, is a classic Rose recipe: simple, subtle, natural without a lot of bells and whistles up front and satisfying to your palate and soul.

Classic Carrot Cake with Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Fosting
I suspect Bilbo and the dwarves would approve

Here's the link to Marie's Classic Carrot Cake from December 2009, and here's the link to Marie's round-up of the HCB's Carrot Cakes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Strawberry Birthday Cake

Hello lovely bakers. It's been awhile, hasn't it? I've been busy, out of town, and lastly, sick. I am really whiny about the sick part because usually I can kick a cold in a couple of days and this sucker has been hanging on for almost TWO WEEKS. I also think the tail-end of the sick has co-mingled with seasonal allergies, but STILL. Eating sugar irritates my already irritated throat, so I haven't been baking. I still have eggs from the dozen I bought a week and a half ago. The Kitchen Aid has been quiet. I may have forgotten how to make Italian meringue or a perfect genoise. So much time has been lost. Oh the melodrama!

So here's the cake I baked for myself for my birthday, back at end of May, when I was healthy and spry. Ah, the good ol' days.

Strawberry Cake for my Birthday

May 27,2011
Name of Cake: Strawberries!!
Occasion: ECL's birthday, and fresh strawberries!!
Constituents: a simple yellow cake with lots of strawberries!!

We've had a cold and rainy spring again, so when I swung by the farmer's market the day before my birthday and found fresh strawberries--organic! and from Oregon!--I did a little happy dance and bought half a flat. Strawberries are my harbinger of warm weather--I love them, enough to squat down in the dirt for hours u-picking them. But when they are already nice and picked and clean--and actually ripe, unlike the California berries that get sent up here--then I am helpless. I've bought and devoured a half-flat of strawberries every week that I've been here this season. I can't help it!

Then I spied Fressen, a stand selling gorgeous European bread, and spied a funny looking pretzel-croissant hybrid aptly named a Bavarian Croissant. I am no authority on all things Bavarian but when I lived in Munich I saw no such thing. So naturally, I had to buy one.

Strawberry Cake for my Birthday, and a bavarian croissant

I ate almost a pint of strawberries on the 15 minute drive home, and when I got home, I shot some photos and then sampled the Bavarian croissant. Oh my. It had the characteristic thin crisp crust like a real pretzel, but the interior was soft, rich with butter, and a little sweet. It was like a brioche croissant! The pretzel salt on the crust was a sharp counter to the buttery sweet interior and once I finished it I couldn't wait to hunt them down at the next market and buy another one.

bavarian croissant!

I decided the strawberries needed to be baked in cake, like the cake Smitten Kitchen had posted FOUR DAYS before my birthday. People, when you see a recipe four days before your birthday and you sigh wistfully that if only there were fresh local strawberries so you could make that cake for your birthday, then the day before your birthday you find exactly what you were pining for, THE CAKE MUST BE MADE IMMEDIATELY.

And that is what I did.

Strawberry Cake for my Birthday
Sprinkled with turbinado sugar

Strawberry Cake for my Birthday
I forgot the instructions said to make sure the berries were cut side down

Strawberry Cake for my Birthday

Strawberry Cake for my Birthday

Unfortunately, that is all the photos I have of the cake. So let me tell you about it: the cake is a simple yellow cake, baked in a 9 in deep dish pie plate. I want to change that as everybody kept asking me about the freakin pie I made and I had to keep reminding them that I DO NOT MAKE PIE. I also wanted to point at it and say, does that really look like a pie to you, but that would be supremely bitchy of me and one can only get away with so much on one's birthday.

As the cake bakes, the strawberries get jammy and soft and sink slightly into the batter. This is a good thing. The original recipe calls for sprinkling white sugar on the berries, but I decided turbinado would be better, which it is.

The cake was good, but I want to make it better. I want to marry it to Dorie's Swedish Almond Visitor's Cake or whatever that thing is called. I want almond flavor, and a cast iron skillet. I was technically saving this post until I could run said experiments, but as I have already whined a certain virus has mucked up my plans. Alas. You'll all just have to stay tuned, or try it for yourself and tell me all about it.