Monday, January 21, 2013

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Cupcake Ranking: 4+ Cupcakes

We love carrot cake and this recipe did not disappoint.  This was so yummy.  The cake was moist and for a twist the frosting has freshly grated ginger and orange zest in it.  It lightened the cream cheese frosting and was a perfect compliment to the spiciness of the cake.

Cake Ingredients

3 C all-purpose Flour, plus more for pans
1 C (3 ounces) Pecan halves (optional)
1 lb large Carrots, peeled
3 large Eggs, room temperature
1/3 C nonfat Buttermilk
1 tsp pure Vanilla extract
2 C Sugar
1 1/2 C Vegetable oil
1 Tbs freshly grated Ginger
2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp ground Cinnamon
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting*
Candied Carrot Strips**, optional

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans (I used 8 inch pans and thought the layers were too think.  I would recommend 9x2 pans). Dust pans with flour, and tap out any excess. Set pans aside. Spread pecans in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan, and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and let stand until completely cool. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees. Finely chop pecans, and set aside (I didn't put nuts in ours.  Personal preference).

Using the smallest holes (less than 1/4 inch in diameter) of a box grater, grate carrots, yielding 2 1/2 cups. Place carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, vegetable oil, and ginger in a large bowl; whisk until well combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until combined. Fold in the toasted pecans(optional).

Divide batter between the two cake pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the middles comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of the cakes so surfaces are level. Slice each layer in half horizontally. Place a layer on a cake stand or cardboard round, and spread 3/4 cup frosting over top. Place a second cake layer on top, and spread with another 3/4 cup frosting. Repeat with third layer and another 3/4 cup frosting. Place last cake layer on top, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and the sides of the assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill 3 to 4 hours (Super important.  It gives time for the cake and frosting to meld).

If using the candied carrot strips, set a wire rack over a baking pan. Using your fingers, lift one candied carrot strip from the sugar syrup, holding it over the container. With the thumb and forefinger of your other hand, gently squeeze the carrot strip and slide your fingers along its length, removing as much excess syrup as possible; lay the carrot strip on the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining carrot strips.
Gently place tapered end of a carrot strip in center of cake, and gently press it down the side of the cake; place a second strip next to it. Continue applying strips around entire cake. Form 2 or 3 strips into a decorative bow, and place on top. The candied carrots gave a nice texture difference to the frosted cake.  I highly recommend having them.  Cut cake, and serve.

*Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted Butter, room temperature
3 bars (8 ounces each) Cream cheese, room temperature
3 C Confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 Tbs freshly grated Orange zest
2 Tbs freshly grated Ginger
Pinch of salt

Place butter in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, and beat until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add sugar, orange zest, ginger, and salt, and beat for 5 minutes.

**Candied Carrot Strips

12 large Carrots, peeled (This was WAY too many.  You would have plenty with 4 Carrots)
7 C Sugar 

Using a mandoline, slice carrots lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick strips, and set aside.

In a small stockpot, combine 4 cups sugar and 2 cups water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, brushing the sides of the saucepan with cold water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. Add carrots, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until carrots are translucent, about 25 minutes.

In another small stockpot, combine the remaining 3 cups sugar with 1 cup water. Place over high heat, and bring to a boil, brushing the sides of the saucepan with cold water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing. When the sugar has completely dissolved, remove from heat.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer candied carrots from the syrup in which they boiled to this new sugar syrup. Let stand until completely cooled; discard the old syrup. Transfer carrots and new sugar syrup to an airtight container, and store, refrigerated, up to 3 days.

 Rach's Review:

This cake was truly delicious.  It is my new carrot cake recipe.  The cake was moist, flavorful and truly delicious.  I think the only change, to the cake, I would make would be to add some cloves and nutmeg.  I like a little spiciness to a carrot cake.  The frosting was superb.  It had freshly grated ginger and orange zest.  They completely lightened and otherwise heavy frosting and it complimented the cake amazingly.  I highly recommend this cake to anyone!