Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Mistakes that make a carrot cake

look at those lovely little flecks of vanilla seed

Have you ever had one of 'those' days. You know when things seem OK to begin with but then as the day starts to unravel, well so does everything.

I had one of 'those' days this week.

It seemed fine, the babies had breakfast, and somehow even though they were contained by the table, it seemed there was cereal coating everything!

Then I notice as I'm checking the weather out, there was something in the grass.

Oh, only the $30 Tupperware drink bottle that I had just had replaced as the top had not worked for so long. It laid all alone, now rejected by the puppy who had now finished mauling it into an unrecognisable shape!

It did not stop at that.

Even though I set out to be early for swimming, a little one found a delightful mud puddle. This is not usually a problem, and when we are having a simple day at home, we rejoice in exploratory play. This was not a day at home. This was a day where clean feet were needed for the pool, for the car we were about to travel in, for the sake of social cleanliness-really!

Another little one decided that it was toilet time for the next twenty minutes. As I said, this is not usually a problem, however...

This was the whole day, just lots of little things, one on top of the other, accumulating into one huge mess at the end of the day.

how nice are those cupcakes, I just love the styling for women's weekly cookbooks!

The last straw was the crucial ingredient, left off the shopping list, so also left at the grocery store.

I tell you these things, not so you may hear the whiny tone you think I'm using, but just to illustrate how you can think everything is coming undone when you are in the middle of of the cyclone, but to those who don't get to see all the little things adding up, they just enjoy the carrot cake, and smile!

I had an order for a breakfast option for Primary teachers. They were going to be having a planning day, starting with a delicious breakfast. There were lots of quiches and bacon and egg muffins coming, fruit platters and the like, a regular cast of breakfast characters. So we were not left with a lot of options. Someone suggested carrot cake (apparently a preferred food for those looking for a healthy option- well it is full of fibre!).

Imagine this with your cuppa after breakfast
I had never made a carrot cake before, and I'm not usually thrown by these kinds of requests ( I always have a back up plan ready to go, just in case- cue the cinnamon scrolls!). But it just wasn't my day.

So I researched a bunch of recipes. Ones from my cook books at home and a variety from the web. They all seemed to have the same method, the same ingredients and most had a very similar ratio. The few variants were the spices, pineapple(-eww!), nuts,  and the number of eggs.

I decided on a recipe that had more eggs than the others. Being gluten free, I thought this should help with the leavening.

Well it would have only I halved this recipe, that is I halved the ingredients, all except the grated carrot. Big mistake. One of a thousand things to go wrong.

Or was it?

The reports from this cake are why I am making a post about it.

So to those who requested the recipe, this is the one that works, it tastes just as great, is delightfully moist, but has not twice the carrot it was supposed to, so make this cake just the way it is supposed to be!

So I changed the flour to my gluten free baking flour, sticking to the ratio.
I simplified the spice selection- I wanted the carrots to shine.
I also reduced the sugar slightly, there was a whole lot of sugar- 3 and 1/2 cups (no thanks, no one needs to eat that much sugar for breakfast!).



(still to be confirmed- your reviews will help this situation!!)

Original unadulterated recipe found in 'the essential recipe guide' put out by Spotlight stores in 1999 ( you know, back in the day)

40-55minutes (depending on tin) 180C / 350F

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside, or whisk. Either way you will get flour dust on your lovely timber venetian blinds!:

  • 2 cups Gluten free baking Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

  • In a large bowl, or in the bowl of you stand mixer beat together until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes):

  • 2 cups caster sugar or superfine sugar
  • 1 cup Vegetable Oil (yeah...about that, I didn't have any mild vegetable oil, only herb oil, so I used softened butter in its place)
  • 4 whole Eggs
  • Then add and combine completely:

    Aren't these just beautiful!

  • 2 cups Grated carrot (I used a superfine grater, I think this really makes a difference to the end result)
  • So I've made this cake about 15 times in the last 2 weeks to get it right and try new things. This was a new thing, using heirloom carrots. They look beautiful before they are cooked, but the colour does change when cooked, and it's not nice!

    Once combined turn mixer to low and spoon in dry ingredients mixing until completely incorporated.

    These are optional (I did not add these) and can be folded in last:

  • 250g crushed pineapple (eww! sorry if you enjoy cooked pineapple, but , no thanks!)
  •  1 cup chopped walnuts ( I didn't add these as they were going off to a nut free school)

  • Spoon mixture into your greased and floured bunt pan (bake for 50-55m) or 2 x 23cm round tins (bake for 40-45m), or your patty pans (bake for 20-30m depending on the size of your cupcake).
    Be sure to smooth over your cupcakes so they are nice and easy to ice when cool.

    I do love cream cheese frosting, it has a wonderfully balanced flavour. I do find that most recipes like the one in the book are way over the top with sugar!
    Cream Cheese Frosting:

    Even Miss2 cannot resist the calls of the cream cheese frosting
  • 250g softened butter (how much butter do you need! I only used 125g)
  •  250g softened cream cheese (you could totally make this dairy free with tofu cream cheese and dairy free spread of coconut oil)
  •  250g icing sugar or confectioners sugar (see what I mean, really too much, use you discretion here)
  •  1 teaspoon vanilla essence (I prefer to scrape a vanilla bean, cause you can see the seeds through the frosting, and I like that).

  • Any way as I was saying earlier, this (the cream cheese was what I left off the shopping list. So I was unable to make any frosting for the cakes going out.

    Mum did make some, and this was her version that went out on the cakes to the school that day:
    Beat together until thick and white (about 3-4m, you really want the sugar to begin to dissolve into the butter):
  • 4 Tablespoons of softened butter
  •  1/2 Cup of caster sugar

  • mix until combined:
  •  2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  •  250g softened cream cheese (mum made this frosting the morning of, and left the cream cheese out all night to soften, she believes this is what helped bring the frosting together, so don't miss this step, you do not want little chunks of cream cheese throughout the frosting!)

  • Beat until just thickened (don't go too far)!:
  • 100ml of single cream (no need to use thickened cream, or double cream as you already have butter)

    This was fun to watch the kiddos try to eat, that is if you do not have an aversion to frosting nostrils...well they loved it and that's all that matters
    So maybe not one for the guests.

    Keep at room temperature until cake has cooled.
    Smother your cake/s in this wonderful cream cheese frosting, of course this carrot cake is delightful without it, but it is such a wonderful partner.

    The sister has been telling me about her lemon curd cream cheese frosting- yum. I bet that would set this cake off. Let me know if you try it!

    These cakes keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerate for up to a week. So if you have guests coming, make up a batch, there will be no disappointing them here!

    If you make this cake, please share how it goes!

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