I'm a big fan of Easter Baskets. At least in theory. The kind I like really are woven baskets, on the modest side, no cellophane required, and it really ought to contain at least one chocolate bunny and an assortment of egg shaped, pastel colored candies. Maybe a few jelly beans. I've seen that the local bunny has occasionally slipped in a small stuffed toy such as a chick or rabbit, or a copy of a book by Margaret Wise Brown in her fabulous rabbit obsession days. Done.
The thing is, we are not big candy eaters in our house. And although I fully believe that Easter baskets are not only meant for children, sometimes I like to change it up a little and celebrate the day with a different kind of treat.
Easter=Spring=Rabbits=Carrots=Carrot Cake. Follow me?
This year, despite my fears of ruining the appearance of the cake and ending up a spectacle on the Cake Wrecks web site, I even decorated the cake with a little carrot in the icing. I did it freeform. When I made the frosting, I put aside a tablespoon or so, to which I added one drop each of red and yellow food coloring. Mixed together, this made a lovely carrot orange blob of frosting. Then, taking a very small flat knife, I carefully smoothed on a long triangle shape (the carrot) onto the top of the frosted cake. Not bad! Then I took another bit of leftover frosting and added a drop or two of green food coloring. It was tricky, but I managed to sketch out a few green leaves on top of the carrot. Woo hoo! Watch out, Ace of Cakes! The carrot cake rookies are on your bunny-tail.
As you probably know, carrot cake is a dense, moist cake that Alton Brown says is more properly a "muffin" in its construction. In fact, I took Alton's advice and, using an instant-read thermometer, actually took the temperature of the cake to test for done-ness. Turns out that was a good idea, and I baked the cake another ten minutes over the suggested recipe time in order to make sure it was thoroughly baked.
This carrot cake may not fit in a basket, but it is sure to satisfy all the bunnies in your home.
This recipe makes a nine inch round carrot cake, baked in a spring-form pan.
12 ounces (or 2 and 1/2 cups) of all purpose flour
12 ounces (about 6 medium size) carrots, grated
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces (1 and 1/3 cup) sugar
2 ounces dark brown sugar (about 1/4 cup, packed)
3 large eggs
6 ounces plain yogurt
6 ounces vegetable oil
Cream Cheese frosting (see recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
To prepare pan: Butter and flour the pan, and line with parchment paper.
Grate the carrots and set aside in a large bowl.
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix, then add them to the grated carrots ad toss until the carrots are well covered with the flour and spice mixture.
In food processor, combine both sugars, eggs and yogurt. While mixing, slowly add the oil. Pour this mixture into the carrots and stir until just combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake on middle rack of preheated oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes or until cake tests done. (Recommended temperature is 205 to 210 degrees in the center of the cake).
Allow cake to cool for 15 minutes until removing from pan, then allow to cool completely on a rack before it is frosted.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
8 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces powdered sugar (about 2 cups), sifted
DIRECTIONS: (using mixer with paddle attachment)
Cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla and continue mixing on low. Add powdered sugar slowly, mix until smooth.
Cool the frosting in the refrigerator for ten minutes before frosting cake.