This carrot cake has been a long time coming. I had promised my brother back in June that I would make one for him because he never has any baking requests. I then planned and unplanned it for the next six months. I decided that New Years Eve I was finally going to do it, and when I read about this recipe, I knew it was the one.
One of the problems with carrot cake or more accurately, my brother, is that it is traditionally made with a cream cheese frosting, and my brother is disgusted by cream cheese (yeah, I dunno what's wrong with him). So I needed something else that would pair nicely. Eventually I had the idea of using a white chocolate frosting and was instantly excited about the flavour pairing.
I halved the recipe to make two 8 inch layers, because three 9 inch layers was way too much (especially after all the Chinese Food :)) and because I read that 4.5 cups of icing was the right amount for a cake this size, I halved that too. My only other changes were to omit the raisins from the cake (my brother's girlfriend doesn't like raisins, I don't know what's wrong with her either :)) and because I can't help myself, I also played around with the sugar.
As I was icing the cake it seemed like there might be too much, but I have a known prejudice against icing. As a result, I ignored my instinct and continued to slather it on (besides, good white chocolate ain't cheap :)). This was a mistake. There was simply too much icing and it overpowered the cake. However, it was quite delicious. Very creamy and just enough white chocolate flavour, although a bit too sweet for me (no one else thought so). I would definitely use it again just in reduced amounts (you’d probably be safe with a 1/3 of the original recipe).
The cake was good as well, nice and moist with the right amount of spice. Given the appropriate amount, the frosting would have been a good compliment. However, I wish that along with the raisins I had removed the walnuts. In general, I'm not a fan of nuts baked into cakes. Instead I would prefer them between layers, leaving the cake pure. The walnuts were an unneeded texture and, for me, lessened the impact of the cake's flavour. In the recipe's defence I added roughly a ¼ cup too much, but I firmly believe that it can be omitted entirely. Unexpectedly though, was how much I enjoyed the addition of the coconut. Normally I'm not a coconut fan (although that has been changing recently) but in this case it definitely enhanced the flavour of the cake.
There is no question this was a really good cake and one I would make again given a few changes. Next time if end up with too much icing, I'll just grab a spoon and eat it out of the bowl. What? It's got egg whites. Those are healthy :).
Carrot Cake w/ White Chocolate Buttercream
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker1 cup all purpose flour (130g)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar (100g)
1/3 cup packed golden yellow/light brown sugar (74g)
1/2 cup canola or any neutral vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts -- I used about ¾ cup, next time I would omit entirely
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut -- I could only find medium grate
White Chocolate Buttercream
Adapted from Martha Stewart10oz good quality white chocolate (280g)
1 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes (254g)
3/4 cup egg whites (approx 6 large egg whites, 189g)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar (175g)
Above are the values for 1/2 the original recipe, below are the values for 1/3 -- which I think would work better
7oz good quality white chocolate (198g)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes (103g)
1/2 cup egg whites (approx 4 large egg whites, 126g)
2/3 cup sugar(134g)
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease 2 8” round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and salt, and whisk to combine.
In another medium bowl add carrots, walnuts (if using) and coconut. Toss to combine.
In the large bowl of a mixer cream together oil and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time until each is completely incorporated.
Set mixer on low and slowly add the dry ingredients until they are just combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add the carrot mixture and mix until combined. (Remove from mixer and fold in any of the carrot mix that isn't incorporated into the batter).
Evenly pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (mine took 32).
Allow to cool in pan on rack for 5 minute before removing and cooling completely.
White Chocolate Buttercream
Place a large heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Add white chocolate and melt, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
In a medium saucepan add egg whites and sugar and whisk until the sugar has melted and the temperature has risen to approxiamtely 110F (hot to touch). Remove from heat.
Transfer egg whites to the large bowl of a mixer and beat on high speed until soft peaks form and mixture is cool. Lower speed to medium and add butter 1 tbsp at a time until each addition is just combined.
Add melted white chocolate and raise mixer speed to high and beat until smooth (approximately 5 minutes). Reduce mixer speed to low and beat for a minute (this will apparently remove any air bubbles).
If the cake is not ready to be frosted, cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in fridge. When ready to use allow to come to room temperature, set mixer to low and beat until smooth again.