Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Control Freak Carrot Cake

I am not a control freak, I am a planner.  It's just what I do, I plan. 
However, I am not an OCD organizer either, I just like to have an idea of what I'm getting into...
or digging into...

I felt the need to make this distinction, because today is my 18th birthday and I made my own cake. 
This is the first time I've done that, as usually my tradition is to have a red velvet cake from Portos (so good!), but this year I decided I wanted Carrot Cake instead.  I looked at Porto's Bakery carrot cake and their version had a deal breaker for me... nuts.  I can't stand walnuts, peanuts, or pecans, unless they are in butter form.  So as I was about to resign to getting the usual red velvet cake, I came across Cooking Light Magazine's June 2011 issue in which they took the usually caloric carrot cake and revised it to be much lighter in calories, and let me tell you, those calories will not be missed.
If you like dense carrot cakes that are perfectly moist without being soggy, then this is the cake.  Otherwise, I've got other recipes for you that are differently good (and also without nuts!).  The spices are well balanced, being light without dissappearing and obvious without becoming overpowering.
I apologize to my extended family, but I may have found a recipe to replace Grandma's.  Seriously, that good.

Carrot Cake (from Cooking Light)

10 1/10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated carrot  (I used 2 1/2 because I like the texture with more carrots!)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk (I have never felt the need to buy buttermilk, so I just replaced this with 1/2 cup 2% milk and 1/2 tsp white vinegar mixed in)
Cooking spray

7 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted (ew, no).
Raw batter

 Baked Batter


1. Preheat oven to 350°.   (When I bake cakes I always do it at 325, my high school cooking teacher advised us to do that once, and it has never failed to produce evenly cooked and perfectly bronzed cakes... seriously, try it).
2. To prepare cake, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. If you simply scoop it, you could end up with way to much flour).  Combine flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add 2 (and a 1/2) cups grated carrot, tossing to combine.
3. Place granulated sugar, brown sugar, and 6 tablespoons butter in another large bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Spread batter into a 13 x 9-inch metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. I'll admit, I committed a huge baking faux pas here, I used the wrong type of pan.  Usually, I would say never do that, but you know what?  It was my birthday, and I'm a firm believer that sheet cakes are not special enough for birthdays.  Sorry.  Bake at 325° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack.
4. To prepare frosting, place softened cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at medium speed until combined (don't overbeat). Spread frosting evenly over top of cake. Sprinkle evenly with toasted pecans. (*blech*)

Cuts perfectly...

and tastes so good.  Really, I had three slices.  My birthday wish was that the calories wouldn't count. 

Between the cake and finishing high school classes forever, this was the best birthday yet, for which I am so thankful to my family, Andie, Mama Evans, May, Kels, Pess, Nicole, Chels, Kari, and Lauren O for!  You think you have sweet friends? They don't even touch mine.


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