Carrot Cake for Easter Weekend
Recently my family and I tried the new Truth Barbecue, which has opened a Houston outpost inspired by the original in Brenham. The barbecue was really, really good. The sides were amazing (hello, Tatertot Casserole). But what stuck with us the most (besides the calories) was the beautiful and ginormous slice of carrot cake we finished lunch with.
I have to say: My dad went to the counter to get a piece of cake after we had finished lunch. Of course, I had vowed not to eat cake and actually just had the tiniest bites of sides. And then Dad came back with a huge slice of carrot cake. I was fine with that, because my first choice out of all of the gorgeous towering cakes in the case would not have been carrot. I could take it or leave it. But when everyone dug in and remarked how great this cake was, I thought, “Okay, just a bite to see what this is all about.” We all know what happened after that.
This carrot cake was not one that I could take one bite of. I can’t even tell you exactly why it was so awesome – I do remember that it was super moist, and the cream cheese frosting was the perfect balance of sweet, creamy and tang – but it was one awesome cake.
Ever since that lunch, which was maybe six weeks ago, my daughter and I have been talking about carrot cake. And now that it’s Easter, we thought we should make one for everyone. But we didn’t know which recipe to make. So we started gathering and comparing recipes and testing them. We had friends taste, we brought slices to The Buzz offices, and we even brought some slices to dinner at Kenny & Ziggy’s one Sunday night, where the waiter tested for us, too. The cake recipe that follows was the winner. It’s a mashup of several recipes that promise “best-ever carrot cake.” And we think this one really is it. I’m afraid to go back to Truth to try theirs again, because I’m not sure homemade will ever measure up. But for now, this will do.
This Easter weekend, give this carrot cake a try. Let us know what you think, too. Happy Easter!
2 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pound grated carrots
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
Cream Cheese Frosting ingredients:
2 packages cream cheese (16 ounces), room temperature
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ½ cups powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray, then line each with parchment paper. (You can trace the bottoms of the pans onto the parchment, then cut the rounds out so that they fit perfectly in the pans.) Lightly spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. In another medium bowl, combine the carrots and buttermilk. With the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, beat together the eggs, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla for about 4 minutes, until it thickens and turns light. Stream in the oil slowly, with the mixer on low. Change to the paddle attachment. Add the dry ingredients and the carrots while the mixer is on low, alternating between the two. When the batter is combined, pour it equally into the two baking pans.
Bake the cakes for 40 – 45 minutes. They will be done when a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for about 10 minutes, then transfer the cakes from the pans (run a knife along the edges of the cakes to release them from the pans) onto racks to cool. Remove the parchment. Let the cakes cool completely, about 2 hours.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and salt. Stop the mixer, and add the powdered sugar gradually, mixing on low between additions. Beat the frosting on high until it is light and fluffy.
To assemble the cake, put one round on a cake platter. Spread about ¼ of the frosting over the top of it. Place the other round on top of that one, and use the remaining frosting to frost the top and sides of the cake. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to give the frosting time to set.
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