Last Easter = non-cooking Sara. This Easter = cooking Sara. Actually, this Easter = BAKING Sara. Nothing too fancy, but I finally baked something that appealed to just about everyone, and that’s a great feeling. Originally, I was going to make Lemon Crumb Squares, but then I saw this carrot cake recipe on The Pioneer Woman.

Yeah, not much competition. I hadn’t had carrot cake before yesterday, but I had made some no butter carrot raisin cookies awhile back (they were really good, by the way – more cake than cookie, though), so I had a general idea of what a carrot cake would taste like. This was a really easy cake to make – the hardest part was grating two cups worth of carrots (I REALLY need a box grater). Actually, the hardest part was not eating all of the batter. SO. GOOD. Anyways, I made the cake at home, with an oven that only works for 35 minutes, tops.

I am haunted by broken ovens.

Thankfully I made the cake in a 9×13 Pyrex dish, so the cake only needed 30 minutes to bake. The oven cut off after 25, but I let the cake bake in the residual heat for another 10 minutes, just to be safe. In the mean time, I made some DELICIOUS icing. Instead of just making your basic cream cheese icing, I made MAPLE cream cheese icing. Best decision of the weekend, except for maybe eating my body’s weight worth in brussel sprouts at Easter lunch. That’s a different story though.

So yeah, everyone dug the carrot cake…except Lara (who is not into cakes that aren’t vanilla or cookie) and my dad (who is not into desserts, period. Weird, right?). Although I love making different dishes with semi-“weird” ingredients, every once in awhile it’s nice to make something that everyone likes and then hear them say “SARA THIS CAKE IS DELICIOUS” or “SARA, THIS CAKE IS SO MOIST! THIS ICING IS GREAT!” I do love a good ego boost.

Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing
Taken from The Pioneer Woman, serves 16

For the cake:
– 2 cups Sugar (I used 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown)
– 1 cup Vegetable Oil (I used half a cup oil, and half a cup unsweetened apple sauce)
– 4 whole Eggs
– 2 cups All-purpose Flour
– 1/2 teaspoons Salt
– 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
– 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
– 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
– 2 cups Grated Carrots
– I also added about half a tsp of Nutmeg, just for kicks and giggles

For the icing:
– 1 stick butter
– 1 8oz block of cream cheese
– 2.5 cups powder sugar (Helloooo Barefoot Contessa)
– 1/4 cup maple syrup

In one bowl, cream the oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs together. In another bowl, mix the baking powder, baking soda, flower, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg together. Then, in three batches, mix the dry ingredients into the wet. Grate two cups of carrots and then mix into the batter until just combined. Pour the batter into a 9×13 baking dish (grease it first!) and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes. In the meantime, cream the butter and cream cheese together, then add the sugar and mix that in, followed by the syrup. Let the icing hang out in the fridge for at least half an hour, or until firm enough to spread on the (completely cooled) cake. Pioneer Woman adding chopped pecans into her icing, but obviously I didn’t. I also considered adding raisins, but it seems that too many people don’t like raisins (travesty, I tell you), so I left those out of the mix.

The end result was a moist, slightly dense cake that was absolutely delicious! The icing really made the cake awesome, in my opinion – I’m so glad that I decided to add maple syrup. You couldn’t taste the applesauce at all, and I think it added to the moistness of the cake. And, as usual, I loved the color of the cake – the specks of orange carrot were so pretty.

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