Sunday, July 10, 2011

Carrot Cake with Pecans and Cranberries

Carrot cake is one of the classics.
It's up there with butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, and lemon meringue pie.
I  made a carrot cake the other day for a friend's birthday.
Turns out carrot cake is a really good choice for a birthday cake. It looks fancy schmancy and it makes a large cake (very large).
Plus, it has vegetables and fruit in it so it must be healthy....right?
Of course.
You can make it as a fancy layer cake or in a 9 X 13 pan (which also looks fancy schmancy, if I do say so myself).

Carrot Cake with Pecans and Cranberries

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
  pinch salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup mayonnaise
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups grated carrots
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, with juice
(The pineapple I buy is a little bigger than 8 oz but I still use the entire can and it turns out fine. )
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 3 - 8 inch round cake pans. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a bowl, and set aside. 
Cream together the sugar, mayonnaise, eggs, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until blended, scraping the bowl occasionally. Stir in the flour mixture, then fold in the carrots, pineapple, pecans, and cranberries. Divide evenly between the prepared cake pans.
Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan, and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.               

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 (8 oz) pkgs of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 - 4 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat cream cheese and butter together until creamy. Beat in vanilla and icing sugar. Start with 2 cups and add until you get spreadable consistency.  (This is the best cream cheese frosting EVER by the way. It isn't as sweet as most but is really cream cheese-y)

To ice cake: place one layer of cake onto plate, top with a little less than 1/4 of the icing. Stack second cake on top. Ice with a little less than 1/4 of icing again. Place the third layer on top and ice with a little less than 1/4 of icing. ( See above photo) Use remaining frosting to cover sides of cake. Decorate with pecans if desired.

I know, I know, I need to work on my pecan arranging skills. I usually chop them finely and just press them onto the sides. The chopped pecan method is good for hiding my poor icing skills. Sue is the cake decorator!

Anyway.... I'm all about promoting healthy cake choices (I almost said that with a straight face.....almost. ). I figure a vegetable cake must be a good choice. I mean, eggs - protein, carrots - vegetable, pineapple/cranberries - fruit. Feel free to eat as much of this delicious cake as you want. If anyone questions you just say - "But Jo says it's good for me!" 

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