Rarely do I venture into the daunting land of cake. Pie is so much more manageable, like a comfortable, over-sized, cable-knit grandpa sweater. It’s comfy. It’s warm. It’s dependable. It has a certain level of understated charm. Cake feels like a velour track suit: much harder to pull off and not look like you’re trying too hard. But on certain special occasions, like the birthday of a dear friend whose daring, inventive, and playful culinary exploits are something to marvel at and admire, only a cake will do.
Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
Makes one two-layer cake.
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 large eggs
3 cups grated peeled carrots
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans instead of cupcake molds. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour paper; tap out excess flour.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and bake the layers for about 40 minutes each, or until a tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Peel off paper; cool cakes completely.
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
about 1 cup shredded coconut or sprinkles (optional)
In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.
To assemble, frost the top of one cake (if it has a raised and rounded top, you can gently shave it down using a sharp knife). Place the other cake on top. Gently frost the sides and top, spreading the frosting generously and swirling decoratively. Add shredded coconut or sprinkles for a snazzier finish. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to set up frosting.