Today’s recipe is from Noteworthy, a Collection of Recipe from the Ravinia Festival. I found the book in our condo building’s library where someone had donated it. So special thanks to the mystery book-giver, and I can assure you it’s found a good home. I’ve already made two things out of it — something called Judges Artichoke Fettucini and this Six Layer Carrot Cake. I don’t have much to say about the fettuccini (though it was pretty good), but I have a lot to say about the carrot cake.
As mentioned, it’s six layers but the layers are made by splitting 3 8-inch layers so the cake is tall, but still a fairly modest size cake. It’s also very rich, so the slices can be cut very thin to feed more people.
The mixing technique is also a little different than most carrot cakes in that it calls for for beating the eggs and sugar until thick and lemon colored and gradually adding the oil. This technique emulsifies the egg mixture, which as I read in Cook’s Illustrated, keeps the oil in tiny bits so that it disperses throughout the cake rather than sinking to the bottom causing sogginess. It really seems to have worked because this cake wasn’t at all soggy.
The only issue was that I ran out of frosting before the cake was fully frosted and had to make another half batch. I don’t think I was overly generous with the frosting, but I did leave out the pineapple so maybe that had something to do with it.
The frosting is great! It has more butter than most cream cheese frostings so it is very rich, but it’s not too sweet. It also seems to hold up at room temperature better than the more cream cheese heavy frostings. I always refrigerate or freeze cream cheese frosted cakes, but I left a few pieces of this cake out and was pleased to see the frosting did not break down.
Overall this was a very good carrot cake and I’m looking forward to making it again once we finish this one. The 8 inch layers weren’t too difficult to slice, but just for fun I might try the Cook’s Illustrated’s method of making it in a half sheet pan, cutting it into four quarters and stacking. I’ll post the results here when I try it.
Update: Half Sheet Pan Carrot Cake
Here’s the cake baked in a half sheet pan (bake time was about 28 minutes), divided it into 4 rectangles and stacked. I’m glad I tried it, but it’s easier to just make the 3 layers in 8 inch pans and split them the best you can.
This cake, no matter how many layers you make it, would make a great ice cream cake because the oil keeps the cake from freezing rock solid.
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (270 grams)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups sugar (285 grams)
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (12 oz)
- 3 cups grated carrots (300 grams)
- 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans and/or walnuts
- 11 oz cream cheese (or 16 oz), softened
- 6 oz unsalted butter, softened (or 9 oz)
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (3 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups well drained crushed pineapple (I omitted)
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans. If you want you can put rounds of parchment on the bottom of each pan and grease the parchment.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, making sure all ingredients are very evenly distributed. This is very important because unevenly distributed baking soda has been known to cause carrots to turn green.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs on medium, increasing slightly to medium high. When eggs are frothy, gradually add the sugar and continue beating until light and lemon color. With the mixer going, gradually add the oil letting it trickle down the side.
- Remove the bowl from the stand and with a heavy duty scraper (or your favorite mixing spoon) stir in the flour mixture until it is evenly blended. Once flour is incorporated, stir in the carrots, raisins (if using) and nuts.
- Divide the batter among the pans. Each pan should get a little over a pound of batter.
- Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes, allow them to cool for 10 minutes in pan, then carefully loosen and turn from pans to cool completely.
- Prepare the frosting. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the room temperature butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until creamy, then beat in the vanilla. If desired, add 1 ½ cups of pineapple.
- When cake has cooled completely, cut each layer horizontally so that you have six layers. Frost and fill with the cream cheese frosting, then chill cake for about an hour before serving.