Looking forward to a lunch dominated by honey-baked ham, even if that ham’s primary purpose is to serve as a vehicle for getting heaps of stoneground mustard into my belly (just like lobster:butter, artichoke:aioli, pancakes:syrup, the list goes on. Why wasn’t this on the PSATs?). Also I really need something to balance out the pounds of carrot cake already in there. Because while it makes perfect sense to follow a recipe that leaves enough batter to fill an extra round cake pan for taste tests, that’s only if you aren’t the sole person testing, and only if you don’t rationalize that an extra slice with toasted coconut, and another with a dusting of finely chopped walnuts, will allow you to narrow down the topping options.
I followed this recipe first because everything the author posts induces stomach growls, and second because her last instruction for the frosting was “bump the speed up to medium-high and beat the crap out of it.” Right on.
Happy Easter and Happy Passover, whichever the case may be.
Yield: 1 (8-inch) 3 layer cake or 1 rectangular cake pan plus one small circle pan for your multitude of taste tests.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
¾ teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
3 cups finely grated peeled carrots
1 cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup raisins
Position racks in the top and bottom third of the oven, and preheat to 325 degrees. Lightly grease 3 (8-inch) round pans with butter (or 1 cake pan plus 1 8-inch round pan). Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. (I didn’t do this due to laziness, but was still able to turn out the cake without a problem).
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Whisk well to blend.
Beat the sugar, butter, oil until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to incorporate after each addition. Add the applesauce, beating to mix. Add the flour mixture, and beat to incorporate, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if needed. Add the carrots, pecans, and raisins and mix just until incorporated.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes; then turn them out onto the rack to cool completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used goat’s milk)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Sift in the powdered sugar, and beat on low speed until incorporated. Add the sour cream or yogurt, vanilla, lemon juice and salt, and beat well to incorporate. The best part: “If the frosting is lumpy from the sugar, bump the speed up to medium-high and beat the crap out of it.”