2.16.2010

Happy Birthday Cake for Ali!

Why is it that every time I finish baking something, I start to think about what else I can bake and when I can do it? If it weren't for the near diabetic doses of sugar in baked goods (just kidding it's good for you), I would likely never convince myself not to bake. But what is this longing that I have to be in the kitchen, passion, obsession? Passion is familiar to me when it refers to my love; however, it is foreign to me in reference to work, as I can honestly say I have NEVER felt this way about my "day job." So why can't I quit my day job and just have this amazing, warm, cozy bakery in which people sit around sipping their lattes and eating delicious pieces of thick chocolate cake sandwich'd around rich ganache??? I ask myself the same thing every day I sit in a freezing cold operating room putting people to sleep in order to endure their surgery, satisfying...umph, I guess, but not nearly the same satisfaction I would get watching someone sink their teeth into a lovely morsel baked to perfection. Ok...so back to reality...I was going to blog about something fabulous, but got caught up in my fantasy of owning my own bakery.
My dear friend Allison's birthday is in just a couple days, February 18th, but given our overly busy schedules, Barry and I decided to have her and her wonderful hubby Pete (who painted this amazing picture over our table) over for dinner a week ago to celebrate yet another year. Of course what better excuse than a birthday to bake! So I made individual lasagnas, salads, and bread for dinner, but more importantly, carrot cake (Allison's favorite) with thick vanilla-flecked cream cheese frosting for dessert. Sound good...you soooo should have had a piece! My mouth is still watering!

So here is the finished cake. By the way, I made a number of gum-paste flowers a couple days prior (more on gum paste at a later date). I then brushed them with gold luster dust and piped on some yellow stamens, they turned out so cute.
Recipe yields a 2-layer 8" cake, but I wanted to change it up so I halved the recipe and made a 6" cake in which I split the 2 layers in half to get 4 total layers.
Cake:
(Recipe reflects full recipe)
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup toasted pecan halves
  • 1 pound large carrots, peeled & shredded on box grater to make about 3 cups
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Directions: 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease pans. Dust with flour, and tap out any excess.  

Place shredded carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, and ginger in a large bowl; mix until well combined. 

Into a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg. Fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until combined. Fold in melted butter and toasted pecans. 

Bake for approximately 1 hr (less if using 6" pan 40-45 mins). Let cool when done. 

Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese
1 stick room temp unsalted butter
3-4 cups of powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean pod or 1 tbsp of vanilla paste

Directions:
Cream butter and cream cheese until combined. Add vanilla, mix well. Slowly add in powdered sugar and mix until creamy.
Notes:
-freezing your nob of ginger will help it last longer, I learned this from Rachel Ray :) Just pop your nob in the freezer and take it out when you are ready to use it, works like a charm! 
-this recipe is simple, and of course no raisins, but add them as you may...I just like pecans and rich spices!
 

Just a small little picture tutorial on a couple of the steps...
 
carrots, yummy!
  
and ginger...
 

the finished batter in the pans
 

first of 4 layers, the thinness of the layers 
married perfectly with the frosting


I plotted out the perfect spacing for all of 
the flowers so it would look uniform


stems and mini yellow flowers in the grass
 

finally the top prior to the personalization 

Well, I guess that's it! Happy Birthday Allison, here is to another great year! 
Happy baking...happier eating!


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