Zingy Orange Ginger Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Icing

Carrot Ginger Cake via Sweetapolita

Happy Good Friday!

Well, it happened. Trust me, I know this is going to sound trite, but this cake is the the most delicious dessert I have ever eaten. Ever. As in not just the best cake, but the best dessert experience (borderline religious) of my entire existence. True, there are a few many desserts that I am very enthusiastic about, and such a bold statement isn’t intended to take any glory away from those fabulous sweets, but this one is it for me. The best part? I didn’t see it coming. Not even a microscopic inkling, but I suppose that’s what is special about it — it looks simple, fuss-free, and, dare I say, boring, but I have never experienced so many incredible flavours simultaneously before, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Friends, this Zingy Orange Ginger Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Icing is the most unbelievably moist (literally — you will not believe it) nut-free carrot orange crystallized ginger cake filled with the fluffiest white chocolate butter frosting (no cream cheese,  not that cream cheese frosting doesn’t rock)with a hint of almond. Laaaaa! Let us rejoice.

Carrot Ginger Cake via Sweetapolita

If you don’t live in Ontario, the home of the LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, you may want to consider relocating, or well, at least frequenting their website with all of the fabulous recipes archived. I don’t normally do two of the same type of cake back-to-back on the blog, and I definitely don’t often make two carrot cakes in one day (it was almost 3, and I’m not even joking!), but I really couldn’t help myself. Basically, here’s the sequence of events that lead to two carrot cakes: 1. I adore everything about carrot cake. 2. I love new & fresh takes on carrot cake. 3. A bunch of readers asked me to blog a delicious carrot cake recipe. 4. I got the new LCBO Food & Drink Spring 2011 magazine with an entire feature on carrot cakes, including 6 gourmet variations. 5.

I bought a shiny new food processor Tuesday (which was when I chose to do as many as I could fit into the following 48-hours). As much as I could have kept shredding carrots in pure bliss (my food blogger friends warned me of the food processor’s unrelenting and addictive powers, and they were right.), I decided to stop at 2 cakes and strongly encourage you to go pick up this magazine (complimentary in all LCBO {Liquor Control Board of Ontario} locations) to see all of the incredible recipes for yourself, or, if you’re not from Ontario, bribe someone to send you one, or, wait until they post the recipes from this issue on their website. If you happened to read my recent post, Mascarpone Meringue Cake, you’ll recall that I love every recipe the folks at this magazine feature.

Carrot Ginger Cake via Sweetapolita

Again, not the most interesting looking cake, which is maybe why I didn’t see it coming, but wow.

Carrot Ginger Cake via Sweetapolita

Yes, I ate this piece. Carrot Ginger Cake via Sweetapolita

And, heck yes, I ate this one too then squealed in delight. One of  my favourite parts: the zingy and unexpected (well, it would have been unexpected had I not actually made the cake myself) chunks of crystallized ginger; I was so happy to find another recipe to use these beauties. I think I’ll make this photo my screensaver indefinitely so I can reminisce.

Actually, I should mention that I mimicked one of the the magazine’s incredible photos of this cake in this photo above — I never do that, but I couldn’t resist. The photos in the magazine were shot by my latest photographer crush, Rob Fiocca. If you’re interested in food photography, you must check out his portfolio; it is awe-inspiring. I really wanted to take the extreme close-up of this slice because it really showcases its textural deliciousness. I feel the need to share with you that those are engineered crumbs–I had to try several times to  them to the plate from another piece because the cake was so moist that I could not get crumbs to fall naturally. Oh my.

Please make this and tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way?

Have a wonderful Easter from all of us here in Sweetapolita-land!

Zingy Orange Ginger Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Icing        {click here for printable recipe}

Ingredients

5 cups (1.25 L) grated carrots

1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped crystallized ginger or stem ginger in syrup

1 orange

2 1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour

1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder

1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger

1 cup (250 mL) butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) granulated sugar

4 eggs

2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla

2/3 cup (150 mL) milk

White Chocolate Icing

1 cup (250 mL) butter, at room temperature

6 squares (6 oz/175 g) white chocolate

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla

3/4 tsp (4 mL) almond extract

Generous pinch of salt

3 cups(750 mL) sifted icing sugar

Garnish

Chopped crystallized ginger

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Spray or lightly oil two 9-inch (1.5-L) round cake pans.

2. Grate carrots using a food processor. Measure out 5 cups (1.25 L). Finely chop ginger. Grate peel from orange. Set aside separately. Place flour in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ginger. Stir until blended. Sprinkle in orange peel while stirring.

3. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat on medium for 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, then vanilla. Don’t worry if it seems curdled. Beating on low, gradually add about a third of the flour mixture. Beat until just mixed, followed by half the milk. Repeat additions, ending with flour. Sprinkle chopped ginger and stir to distribute. Stir in carrots.

4. Divide batter between pans. Spread as evenly as possible to sides of pan. To remove air pockets, bang pans on counter 5 to 6 times. Bake until centres seem set when lightly tapped, 30 to 35 minutes. Place on a baking rack to cool. After about 15 minutes, turn cakes out of pans and cool completely on racks. It’s best to bake cakes a day ahead of icing and leave at room temperature overnight.

5. To make icing, beat butter in a bowl with an electric mixer until very creamy. Place chocolate in a small microwave bowl. Microwave on medium for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir, then microwave on medium for another minute. Stir until smooth. Or on stovetop heat chocoolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir, often. Gradually beat into butter. Add vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Gradually beat in icing sugar.

6. To assemble, palce 1 cake, flat-side up, on a platter.Generously spread with icing, leaving a narrow border of cake around the edge. Top  with the second cake, flat-side down, and gently press down. Smoothly spread icing over the sides of the cake, then the top. Garnish top of cake with chopped  crystallized ginger. It’s best to refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

1. I added about 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of water to the mixed icing and then beat on high speed for about another minute.

2. I weigh the cake pans filled with batter to ensure they are exactly the same, then use a small offset palette knife to spread the batter evenly in pans.

3. I refrigerate cakes for about an hour before frosting, then do a crumb coat, followed by a final topping of icing.

Recipe Source: LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, Spring 2011

Good luck & enjoy!



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Hawaiian Carrot Cake with Coconut Icing

Hawaiian Carrot Cake via Sweetapolita

Happy Thursday!

I hope you’re having a great week, and for some of you, today is actually Friday, since tomorrow is Good Friday, which likely makes your week even better. It’s definitely a crazy time around our house, with my working feverishly on some wedding projects, Reese’s 4th birthday coming up on Monday, my typical baking adventures, and, well, just life as a mom of 2 small kids leading into a busy family-packed Easter weekend.

I’ve been baking like crazy, and was really looking forward to making a really delicious carrot cake for Easter . . . I love carrot cake! I really appreciate a lovely traditional version, but I thought it would be fun to try something a little different. I’ve also been sort of enchanted with open layer cakes lately, and I love simplicity of this one when I saw it on the LCBO website as a sneak peek from their fabulous magazine: Food & Drink, Spring 2011 issue. Although I typically love to switch things up and rework recipes, etc. I didn’t want to mess too much with this one because it was gorgeous just the way I found it, so I left it almost exactly as it was shown in the magazine.

Hawaiian Carrot Cake via Sweetapolita

The cake is a tropical version, including silky coconut cream cheese icing sandwiched between layers of pineapple-infused carrot cake. There are no nuts in the recipe, which was kind of refreshing, but it’s still packed with the wonderful things that make carrot cake so delightful: fresh-grated carrots, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, to name a few. The coconut icing is a play on the traditional cream cheese icing, but with the addition of butter, sour cream, and coconut, it brings it to a whole new level.

Hawaiian Carrot Cake via Sweetapolita

These tropical flavours paired so well with the traditional carrot cake qualities, and I really love the thin layers — I feel like that quick slicing of the two layers into four adds a beautiful element to it, and why not? To me, creating extra layers in a cake, followed by extra icing layers, is one of the simplest ways to make even the simplest cake a show-stopper.

The yummiest!

Hawaiian Carrot Cake with Coconut Icing

Yield: One 4-layer, 9-inch round cake

Super-moist, autumn-spice pineapple-carrot cake filled and frosted with sweet and rich coconut cream cheese icing.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240 ml) chopped canned pineapple
  • 4 cups (1 L) grated carrot
  • 2-1/2 cups (315 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) baking powder
  • 2 teaspoon (10 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (7 g) salt
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g) cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) nutmeg
  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/4 cups (250 g) golden brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk, at room temperature
  • For the Icing:
  • 2 pkgs (250 g each) regular cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) sour cream or natural yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups (315 g) icing sugar
  • 1 cup (75 g) sweetened flaked coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray or oil two 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. Finely chop drained pineapple, place in a sieve and press with a spoon to remove as much juice as possible. Grate carrots using a food processor. Measure out 4 cups and set aside.
  3. Place flour in a large bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir until blended.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat on medium for about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, then vanilla.
  5. Beating on low speed, add about a third of flour mixture and beat just until mixed, followed by half the milk. Repeat additions, ending with flour. Batter will be very thick. Gradually mix in pineapple and carrots.
  6. Divide between prepared pans and smooth with a small offset spatula. To remove air pockets, bang pans on counter 5 to 6 times. Bake until centers seem set when lightly tapped, about 40 to 45 minutes. Place on a baking rack to cool. After about 15 minutes, turn cakes out of pans and cool completely on racks. It’s best to bake cakes a day ahead of icing and leave at room temperature overnight.
  7. For the Icing:
  8. Cut cream cheese into chunks. Place butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Reduce speed to low and beat in cream cheese, piece by piece. Beating too much will cause thinning. Add about a third of the icing sugar and beat on low until just mixed in. Scrape sides of bowl and beaters occasionally.
  9. Gradually add remaining sugar, beating just until smooth. If too thick or thin, work in a little sour cream or sugar. Remove about a quarter of the icing to be used on top cake layer and set aside. Stir coconut into the remaining icing.
  10. Assembly of the Hawaiian Carrot Cake:
  11. Slice cakes horizontally in half. Place top of 1 cake, dome-side down, on a platter. Spread with a third of the coconut icing leaving a narrow border of cake around edge.
  12. Lay the bottom of that cake, cut-side down, on top. Spread with half the remaining coconut icing, leaving a narrow cake border. Top with the bottom half of the second cake, cut-side down. Spread with the remaining coconut icing, leaving a cake border.
  13. Top with the final layer, cut-side down. Spread with plain icing right to the edges. Garnish with toasted, fresh coconut. Best to refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.
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[recipe adapted from Food & Drink Magazine Spring 2011]

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • You may also find this previous post helpful: 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes
  • If you find the coconut icing too runny, add small amounts of icing sugar until desired consistency is achieved.
  • For a quick and easy topping, you can toast flaked (sweetened or unsweetened) coconut on a baking sheet at 350° F for about 12 minutes, or until golden brown, and sprinkle on top of cake.
  • This cake cuts best with a very sharp, serrated knife.

Good luck & enjoy!

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