I’m not a baker. At all. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it from time to time if it’s for fun. This is probably because as a kid baking was the only thing I could help with in the kitchen. I remember helping my mom make cookies when I was young and baking brownies and cupcakes with friends in junior high. It was enjoyable then, easy.
But as I began cooking professionally I realized just how scientific and precise baking can be. While precision isn’t a problem, the scientific part can be challenging for me and my slight ADD tendencies. But I do still like to bake for fun and for my family who will eat anything sweet. It’s just sometimes I lack the patience to bake the same thing again and again, tweaking a little each time until I get it just right. But there are a few exceptions when the results are really, really worth the effort, like with this carrot cake.
As long as I’m confessing, I should add that until recently I had very little experience with carrot cake. In fact, the only carrot cake I’d ever eaten was when I was working the pantry/dessert station at a restaurant and one of the menu items was deep fried carrot cake. The cake itself was made off-site and while tasty, it was also very dry. My job was to make a beer batter to coat the cake squares, deep fry them and inject the centers with a thin cream cheese filling. I’d then arrange three deep fried carrot cake squares on a plate, dust with powdered sugar and send it to a table with a side of thick cream cheese dipping sauce. It was tasty although a bit strange.
So you can see how I was at a bit of a loss when I had a sudden craving for carrot cake about two months ago. In fact, I’d actually dreamed about it (and subsequently tweeted that dream), so I was really excited when I had the opportunity to make a carrot cake for Rosh Hashana dinner at my sister’s house.
To toot my own horn a bit, the cake was fantastic! It was flavorful but not overwhelming and had a scrumptious moist crumb that made each and every bite heavenly. The frosting, well, that was another story.
Something went horribly wrong when I made the cream cheese frosting (I suspect it was because I used low-fat cheese the first time) and it became very thin and watery. Although the frosting tasted great with the cake, the presentation was off, so much so that the layers kept sliding apart because the frosting couldn’t hold them.
Happily for my family, I had to make the carrot cake again so I could perfect the frosting. The second time was the charm. The cream cheese frosting was thick yet spreadable and both a little sweet and tangy, and absolutely perfect for the carrot cake.
Here’s the recipe:
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