Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TWD: Bill's Big Carrot Cake

This week's TWD challenge is from Amanda, of Slow Like Honey, who selected Bill's Big Carrot Cake, pages 254-255. Of course, I wondered who Bill is, and it turns out that he's Dorie Greenspan's late jeweler friend, Bill Bartholomew, who enjoyed her carrot cake which she makes using her 30 year old recipe. Talk about tried and true! He must have enjoyed his carrot cake hearty! And now that I've tried Dorie's recipe, I think I prefer my carrot cake hearty, as well. This cake has it all. Texture, crumb, flavor, and that irresistable, cream-cheese frosting.

I prepared her carrot cake batter with crushed walnuts made super-fine by way of a mortar and pestle, and added shredded coconut. Instead of a big party cake, I made cupcakes. I omitted raisins because David has strong feelings about raisins; he can't stand them and will stomp his feet and throw a tantrum if he finds one sneaked into a baked item. Well, he doesn't really have a tantrum. I'm just having some good old fashioned fun at my husband's expense. It's OK, he stopped reading Smell The Basil, anyhow, so he'll never find out about me exposing his secret disdain of the harmless raisin. Anyhow, my point is that this cake takes well to subsitutions and additions. Dorie Greenspan mentions that dried cranberries are a current favorite addition to this cake. I'll try that next time.
Please check Smell The Basil tomorrow, because my blogging partner, Erin, will post about her take on Bill's Big Carrot Cake. Thanks!
My cupcakes sank a little during the baking process, which could be due to the heavy batter, but this cosmetic flaw was easily repaired with an extra dab of frosting. Please check out the other TWD bakers to see their creations! Also, thank you to Amanda, for selecting a great recipe!

Bill's Big Carrot Cake

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Yields 10 servings


For the cake:

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt

3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries

2 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

½ cup shredded coconut (optional)

Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To make the cake:

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

To make the frosting:

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To assemble the cake:

Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.

Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.


This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it's good plain, it's even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.


The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it's firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.


Jayne said...

They look great! I plan to try cranberries next time, too. Good job!

Chez US said...

Your cupcakes came out nicely, love the coconut on top - very pretty!

Anonymous said...

We also made cupcakes, yum! I think the coconut was the perfect topping!

Rebecca said...

Ohhhhh, that shaved coconut looks lovely. What's with men and raisins anyway? The prejudice.

Heather said...

I made cupcakes too. Yours look great! Very tasty!

Sbarce said...

Your top picture is great! How did you do that? Can't wait to try the carrot cake tonight!

Mary said...

oh man those look delicious!

Shirlie said...

Stacy, thanks for visiting our blog! The top picture was taken in front of a window covered with a transparent white sheet. I made sure the flash was off, and I used the macro setting on my point and shoot. Needless to say, as I'm learning more about photography, I'm shopping for digital SLR! Thanks again!

CB said...

I agree with David, stomping and tantrum and all - not a raisin fan! hehe. I used craisins instead and it was yummy! Your cupcakes look lovely. Great job!

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

Your cupcakes look great! Well done!

Melissa said...

Beautiful! I don't like raisins either.

Annemarie said...

Great job!

Gretchen Noelle said...

These look great! I love the decoration on top!

Shari said...

Your cupcakes look great. The swirl of icing is perfect. And shaved coconut looks so pretty on top. Great job.

Cecilia said...

I really like the coconut flakes on top of your cupcakes. The cakes look delicious!

Sharon said...

Love the cute cupcakes!

Anonymous said...

So Shirl your saying that David doesn't like to "smuggle raisins?"

Google smuggling raisins.

I promise to try a recipe, I just really enjoy the pictures and comentary!

Brown Shah

Anonymous said...

So Shirl your saying that David doesn't like to "smuggle raisins?"

Google smuggling raisins.

I promise to try a recipe, I just really enjoy the pictures and comentary! You are getting too good at this...

Brown Shah