Monday, October 20, 2014

The Best Carrot Cake Ever!!

 I cannot remember where I got this recipe from and I feel horrible because they really need the credit. This has got to be one of the best carrot cake recipes ever.
    3 cups finely grated carrots (not pre-shredded)
      2 cups cake flour
        1 tsp baking powder
          1/2 tsp salt
            2 tsp baking soda
              2 cups granulated sugar
                1 tsp ground cinnamon
                  4 eggs, well beaten
                    1 3/4 cups canola oil
                      1 tsp good quality vanilla
                        1/2 cup crushed pineapple,  semi-drained
                          1/2 cup shredded coconut
                            Cream Cheese Frosting
                              1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
                                3/4 cup butter (12 Tbsp) butter, softened
                                  1 (16 oz) pkg + 1 1/2 cup extra confectioners' sugar
                                    1 tsp good quality vanilla
                                      1/2 tsp almond extract
                                        1 cup chopped pecan pieces (optional for garnish)
                                          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare two, 9" cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and  flour to cover.  Next cut out parchment paper circles (for extra insurance), and fit the circles in the bottom of the pans.  This will ensure that the cakes will not stick to the pans. 
                                          Go ahead and take the 4 eggs out so they can come to room temperature. Let's start grating those carrots.  You do NOT want to use pre-grated carrots.  They are too heavy, too dense, and too dry for this recipe.  They will just fall to the bottom of the batter.  You also do not want to put them in the food processor, as this will make them too wet.  For this, my friends, you need to go old school and pull out the hand grater.  Now I'm sure you are aware that hand graters come in various sizes for the actual grating.  We want finely grated carrots for this recipe.  That means, use your fine grater.  Yes, I'm aware that one takes longer.  But these will just about melt into the batter and be so tender that you will thank me!
                                          Combine the first 7 ingredients.  I suggest doing this in a stand mixer, as this makes a pretty stiff batter at the beginning.  Combine all those ingredients first.  It may seem pretty stiff with all the carrots.  Next, stir in the beaten eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Mixing well.  Now load it up with the extra goodies - the coconut and semi-drained pineapple.  Mix well to incorporate, then pour the batter into the 3 prepared (greased and floured) 9-inch round cake pans that we fit the parchment rounds into.
                                          Bake at 350 degrees  for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle.  You should also see the cake pulling away from the sides of the pan slightly.  Cool the cakes in the pans for about 10 minutes on wire cooling racks.  Then run a knife around the edges, invert onto a cooling rack, and allow to cool completely before you try to frost them. 
                                          Make the cream cheese frosting while you wait for the cake layers to cool.  Combine the cream cheese and butter, beating until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and beat until light and fluffy.  This will take a WHILE!  The cream cheese has to soften and heat up before it will allow itself to aerate and get fluffy and expand.  It will like.... double... but only if you give it ample TIME... like about TEN MINUTES in the stand mixer! 
                                          Spread frosting between each other layers, then the top, then the sides.  Add about a cup or so of pecan pieces to the frosting. If you don't like nuts, or if someone has a nut allergy, leave them off. 

                                          Eggnog Banana Bread

                                           This is a really good Taste of Home recipe, I just changed it a little, really just a tiny bit, not much at all.

                                          1/2 cup butter, softened

                                          1-1/2 cups sugar

                                          2 eggs

                                          1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)

                                          1/4 cup eggnog

                                          1 teaspoon pure vanilla

                                          1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

                                          1/4 teaspoon salt

                                          1/8 teaspoon baking soda

                                          1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

                                          1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

                                          Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and
                                          sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each
                                          addition. Beat in bananas, eggnog and vanilla. In another bowl, whisk flour,
                                          baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and baking soda; gradually
                                          beat into banana mixture.

                                          Transfer to a greased 9x5-in. loaf pan; sprinkle with a
                                          little nutmeg and cinnamon mixture nutmeg. Bake 50-60 minutes or until a
                                          toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing
                                          to a wire rack to cool.  1 loaf