I usually gravitate toward anything chocolate, but I feel that Easter dessert warrants something a bit different. Two years ago, I made Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake, and last year I made this Strawberry Mirror Cake. This year we had a small Easter celebration with my parents, and since carrot cake is a family favorite, I wanted to make it for dessert. I’ve tried several carrot cake recipes, and this recipe remains my favorite for a classic carrot cake, and I loved the Tropical Carrot Cake version I made last year. There was, however, one more version that I wanted to try. The carrot cake from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book is very similar to the classic carrot cake recipe I use, but I was really excited to try the orange variation of the cream cheese frosting.
This was a great variation! The orange was a great twist on classic cream cheese frosting. It added the right amount of sweetness to the usually tangy cream cheese. The cake itself was also delicious. It was a simple, no-frills carrot cake and was very moist and flavorful. What a great choice to celebrate Easter! I cut the recipe in half and baked it in two 6-inch pans since it was just for four of us. If you choose to scale back the recipe like I did, 30-35 minutes is a good estimate for the baking time.
Carrot Cake with Fresh Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy
For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound carrots, grated medium fine
3/4 cup walnut pieces, coarsely chopped
For the fresh orange cream cheese frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softene
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Before you start
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour two 8×2-inch round cake pans. Line each pan with an 8-inch round of parchment paper.
To make the cake
1. in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the eggs at high speed until light and frothy, about 1 minute. Decrease the speed to medium and add the oil, sugar, and salt, and mix until just combined. Decrease the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
3. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the carrots and walnuts.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Spin the pans to level the batter. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a rack to cool for 20 minutes before turning the layers out onto the rack. Cool completely before filling or frosting.
To make the frosting
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and zest. Start on low speed and then increase to medium-high speed and beat until smooth, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
2. Add the butter and mix on medium speed until just fluffy and smooth, about 45 seconds more. Add the vanilla and mix until just combined. Do not overbeat.
To complete the cake
1. Cut 4 strips of wax or parchment paper about 12 inches long by 3 inches wide. Place the bottom cake layer trimmed side up on your serving plate. Tuck the wax paper under the edges of your cake on all sides. Later, after frosting the cake, you can pull away the stripes to reveal a nice clean serving plate.
2. Using a metal offset spatula, spread the filling across the top of the layer, but leave about 1/2 inch uncovered around the outside edges. (This leaves room for the filling to be squished down but to stay inside the cake.)
3. Place the second layer trimmed side down on top of the filling and press down gently with your hands.
4. Apply a light, even layer of frosting on all sides of the cake. Place the cake in the refrigerator to chill for a good 30 minutes.
5. After the crumb coat has chilled, smooth on your final layer of frosting.
The cake keeps in a cake saver in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It tastes great eaten at room temperature or chilled.
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