Monday, November 15, 2010

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting & Toasted Coconut

Cake adapted from a recipe by Gail Gand
Serves  12
This recipe calls for two 10-inch cake pans.  But most home cooks, myself included, have 9-inch cake pans only.  Don’t fret though. You can use a little bit of the leftover batter to make a few (probably about four) cupcakes (with frosting) or muffins (without).  If you do have 10-inch pans though, definitely go for it – This is a huge and gorgeous cake!
Carrot Cake
For the cake:
2 cups vegetable oil
2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
2 2/3 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups canned crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbl plus 1 tsp baking soda
1 Tbl plus 1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbl plus 2 tsp ground cinnamon (I know these measurements seem like a lot, but just
     trust me - they’re right on.)
1 Tbl kosher salt
For the frosting:
3 cups sweetened coconut flakes
3 8-oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle position.  Generously butter two 10-inch cake pans and set aside. 
In a large mixing bowl, stir to combine the oil, sugar, eggs, carrots, nuts, pineapple, coconut and raisins.  In another (larger) mixing bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir to combine.  Pour the batter into the cake pans, filling each only about 2/3 of the way up the sides.  Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.  Remove the cakes from the oven and cool in their pans over wire racks for 30 minutes.  Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on wire racks before making frosting.
Peeled Carrots
Carrot Cake Batter
Toast the coconut:  Spread the coconut flakes evenly over the surface of a sheet pan.  Bake for 5 minutes in the 350°F oven.  Stir well with a metal spatula, then return to the oven.  Continue baking for 5 minutes, then stirring, until the coconut is evenly golden.  You may need to shorten the cooking times towards the end. 
Toasted Coconut
To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the confectioners sugar and beat on low until just combined.  Then add the vanilla and beat at medium-high until the frosting is smooth. 
Slice each cake horizontally into two equal layers.  Place the bottom layer on a serving plate, cut-side up. Frost the top surface with about 1/2 cup frosting, then place the second layer on top.  Continue frosting and placing layers one on top of the other.  Make sure to place the final layer with the cut-side down.  Frost the top and sides of the cake.  Then sprinkle the toasted coconut evenly over the frosted top and sides.  
The cakes can be made a day ahead and kept at room temperature wrapped in plastic.  The frosting can be made a day ahead too and kept refrigerated in an air-tight container.  Make sure to warm it at room temperature and re-beat it in the stand mixer before frosting the cake.  The assembled cake is best eaten the day it is made, but leftovers do keep for nearly a week.  The cake is also best served at or a little cooler than room temperature.
Coconut, Walnuts, Pineapple, Raisins & Carrots