Saturday, October 16, 2010

spice spice baby

I just made the most perfect cake I have ever made in my life I think. It is moist, has a fine crumb, excellent balance of textures, spices and the frosting is fantastic.

 It is called "Gigi's Carrot Cake" and it's by Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network. I'm not much of an Emeril fan, but occasionally he has a recipe or two that I have all the ingredients for and it sounds good, so I make it. One other recent by him was a cornmeal cake I think, but that's another post.

I have made this cake before, but it never turned out quite as nicely as it has now. I don't have a fine shredding blade for my food processor, so in favor of laziness I always use the medium shred blade. This time, however, I took pains to shred 5-6 cups of carrots by hand ( I was going to make two cakes), and it was worth it. The smaller shred gives a better mouth feel and disperses the carrot more evenly throughout the entire cake.

Also, I opted to try out my new "Cake Spice" from The Spice House instead of using just cinnamon in it like Emeril does. Though, I did add an extra 1/2 tsp of cinnamon anyway. Either way you shake it, cinnamon or cake spice, both are delish.
In my mind, I know that the amount of frosting he has listed for this cake is technically enough, but somehow, I just want a smidge more between the layers, so I would recommend making an extra half batch of it to have an ample amount for applying to suit your taste.
His measurements of sugar are spot on, however, not too sweet. I do add a few shakes of salt, probably equal to a pinch. I think I'd add 1/8 tsp if I was making a batch and a half. I feel like it just adds a little somethin' somethin'.

Do NOT forget to toast your pecans! It brings out the buttery sweet nut flavor and really adds "oomph" to the overall taste of the cake. Emeril says to mix the pecans INTO the frosting, but I opted to send them through a little nut grinder and apply them liberally to the outside. In my mind, it made it look nice and rather expensive ($8.99/lb for pecans!), but feel free to experiment however you like.

If you have had trouble in the past like I have, with getting your cake to come out of the round pans, either butter and flour the pan, or for extra insurance, use some parchment, set the pan on it and take a tracing around the bottom and cut them out to make circles to fit inside the pans. Do this for each individual pan or it may not fit properly. Alton Brown had a really handy easy way of doing this, but I can't remember what it was, sadly. I have only 10 inch pans, but 30 minutes still seemed to do fine for me in my propane oven. You may wish to reduce the baking time depending on how your oven cooks.

This is the kind of cake that makes the house smell great and is awesome enough to serve to guests or give as a gift. It's decadent and classic yet homey and comforting. Made to be shared (if there's any left).

Gigi's Carrot Cake

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2002

Prep Time:35 min Inactive Prep Time:10 min Cook Time:35 min
Level: IntermediateServes: 1 cake, 8 to 10 servings.

•3 sticks, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
•2 cups granulated sugar
•2 cups all-purpose flour
•2 teaspoons baking soda
•2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
•1 teaspoon salt
•4 large eggs
•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•3 cups grated carrots
•1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Pecan Cream Cheese Icing:
•8 ounces cream cheese
•1 stick unsalted butter
•1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar
•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•1 cup chopped toasted pecans


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 3 (9-inch) cake pans with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the sugar, and beat. In a medium bowl or on a piece of parchment, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the eggs, beating well after the addition of each. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Add the carrots and beat on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Fold in the nuts. Divide between the 3 cake pans and bake until set and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest in the cake pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, remove from the pans, and let cool.
For the Frosting: In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating constantly. Add the vanilla and pecans.
When the cake is cool, place 1 cake layer on a cake plate or stand. Spread the top with cream cheese frosting and top with a second and third cake layer, spreading the icing between each layer. Spread the icing around the sides of the cake and let harden slightly before serving. To serve, cut into wedges.

1 comment:

  1. Mmmmm, that looks fantastically delightful and a perfect fall dessert :)