Sunday, June 16, 2013

Quick Carrot Cake

I really wanted to bake a cake yesterday. And I really didn't want it to take a long time, and I really didn't want to go buy cream cheese for cream cheese frosting (though it is the most heavenly thing on the planet).

This is a cake for all of those concerns. Like a snack cake. There's no butter involved. I was kind of sick of running down our butter supply, so that's good.

I read an article this morning that said you increase your creativity by thinking in the box, and man was I in a box. "I don't want this, I don't want that"...well that narrows down the options! It was a happy outcome, though. Benefits of not planning...

I was in a hurry to eat this fabulous cake...sorry for the iPhone photo
On the other hand, a disadvantage of not planning is that I thought, "Oh, I'll make an orange glaze." Because I didn't want to buy cream cheese (see above). But we had no oranges or orange juice concentrate in the house. So I settled by putting in some orange oil, but I accidentally put in a little much (a little goes a long way with that stuff) and ended up with glaze that's too orangy.

My recipe also included cornstarch, which gelatinized over the stove, rendering the glaze kind of gloppy and not as syrupy as I would have liked. I peeled it off in a fit of rage!!! The cake is really good as is, with or without a better glaze. I would have rather made a soaking syrup as opposed to a glaze, and used real orange juice if I were to do a glaze, and those changes are included in the recipe below.

The cake method is novel...eggs and sugar are beaten until frothy, then oil is slowly drizzled in to make an emulsification, and then the wet team meets the dry team (plus carrots) for a batter that comes together quickly and dirties only two bowls. Win. You shred the carrots in the food processor before mixing the wet ingredients, so the whole thing has this cohesion, a yin-yang sort of feel.

Kumbaya, let's eat cake.

Quick Carrot Cake
Yield: 1 8x8 pan of carrot cake! (I cut mine into 9 squares, and we finished it in 2 days)


  • 1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (rounded) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated (or ground) nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound (3-4) carrots
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed (1 3/4 oz) brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • a pat of butter
  • a piece of orange rind (take a vegetable peeler to it; this is optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and move a rack to the middle position. Spray 8x8" cake pan with baking spray (line it with a parchment paper sling if you want to be able to take the cake out of the pan easily after baking) or grease and flour.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a large bowl, set aside.
  3. In a food processor, shred the carrots with the big grater (into large shreds). Add these to the flour, then wipe out the food processor bowl and lid.
  4. Process sugars and eggs in the food processor fitted with the metal blade for about 20 seconds, until slightly foamy. Start the machine again, and slowly stream in the oil, continuing to process for another 20 seconds until well emulsified.
  5. Add this egg/sugar/oil mixture to the dry ingredients and carrots, and fold with a spatula to combine. Pour into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.
  6. While cake is baking, prepare the glaze. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once it starts to boil, and is slightly thicker, it is ready. Take it off the heat and remove the orange peels.
  7. Pour warm glaze over cake (you can poke the cake first with a toothpick or fork for maximum absorption). Cut, serve, and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated (I halved their carrot cake recipe) and the Seattle Times (for the glaze)

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