"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"
Do you categorize your food by season? I do. It makes sense to cook with ingredients that are at their peak of freshness. Certain foods, by their nature are also more suited to particular times of the year. For example, to me, it just doesn't feel right to eat butternut squash in the middle of July. Likewise, I feel somewhat out of place serving peach dishes in December.
I also tend to categorize desserts by season. I enjoy lighter, fruity desserts in warmer weather, and denser, richer ones in the Fall and Winter. One of my favorite cool weather treats is a moist, rich and spice-laced carrot cake, preferably with lots of little chunks of fruits and nuts inside. Oh yeah, and it's gotta have a ton of rich, tangy, silky and fluffy cream cheese frosting slathered all over it too!
When I saw this Classic Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting in the January, 2009 issue of Food & Wine Magazine, I knew I had hit carrot cake pay dirt! The recipe comes courtesy of pastry chef Jodi Elliot from the Urban Farmer in Portland, Oregon.
This cake is called classic for a reason. It is moist, dense and flavorful, without being overly sweet. The cream cheese frosting creamy and fluffy, just as advertised. A very satisfying and comforting combination! The recipe is straightforward and uncomplicated. What you see, is what you get. And, in these uncertain times, that is a very good thing!
Classic Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting (Print Recipe)
adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, January, 2009
For the cake:
1 cup pecans (4 ounces)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded
For the frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment. Butter the paper and flour the pans.
Make the cake: Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, until fragrant. Cool and finely chop the pecans.
In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, buttermilk and vanilla. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until pale, 5 minutes. Beat in the liquid ingredients. Beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in the carrots and pecans. Divide the batter between the pans and bake the cakes for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until springy and golden. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then unmold the cakes and let cool completely.
Make the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese at high speed until light, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the confectioners’ sugar; beat at low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Peel off the parchment paper and invert one cake layer onto a plate. Spread with a slightly rounded cup of the frosting. Top with the second cake layer, right side up. Spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting and refrigerate the cake until chilled, about 1 hour.
Slice and serve.