Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Gorgeous Carrot Cake with Modern Piping

I've been loving pinterest lately, as I'm sure most of you are too. I stumbled upon this great piping technique, which maybe you've seen on there too. I sourced it from two different blogs (one and two), and their tutorials were so helpful and well done. I know I could improve my piping skills, but overall this is a pretty simple technique and I love how modern it looks.

So first of all I have to share my blunders with you. I always make the same carrot cake (because it is so moist and delicious) and the same cream cheese frosting that goes with it. Well, I normally make this cake into cupcakes, where I pipe just the top, easy and it's done. This time around though, I wanted to do something a little different and make a traditional round double-layered cake. Just so I can get the practice in, and they look nice and formal. When I went to start piping with my newfound technique, I realized the cream cheese frosting was way too soft to hold its shape going down the sides of the cake. I panicked. I researched it a bit, and come to find out everyone knows you can't pipe cream cheese frosting. Where was I during that home ec lesson? 

Earlier in the week, I bought extra powdered sugar not sure if I would need it, and by the time the piping incident came around, I was so glad to pull out this unopened bag. I failed to mention that I was bringing this cake to my mom's birthday party at her shop, and that they were expecting me quite shortly. I quickly made up some traditional buttercream frosting, and was on my way to piping with nice little dots that held their shape. Yay.

Since I had made all of that cream cheese frosting, I couldn't let it go to waste, so I used it as the filling and as a very thin layer around the whole cake, top included. I love carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and I was going to get that flavor somehow, even if it did mean two types of frosting on one cake. Oh well. In the end, the carrot cake looked beautiful, and Billy encouraged me so much along the way. It tasted amazing, so moist as usual, I think it has to be that can of crushed pineapple... and all that butter. 

I hope when you go to make this cake, that you're not rushing to get it out the door to a birthday party, but that you actually really enjoy this fun piping technique, and the yummy cake too of course!

What do other people do when decorating their carrot cakes? Let me know what you would've done in my situation, I'm curious!

A Gorgeous Carrot Cake with Modern Piping
Serves: 15-20 Time: 1 hr 30 min
Adapted from Mrs. Field's Cookie Book
Kitchen Tested
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups salted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
3 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3-4 medium carrots, shredded
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

How To:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350º F. Prepare two 9 inch cake pans with butter, and tap in a little flour to coat the butter, shake out excess.

2. In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In another large bowl, add softened butter and blend until very smooth. Add sugars. Continue to blend until very smooth making sure there are no lumps of sugar. Add one egg and vanilla, mix well.

4. Add flour mixture, the last two eggs, shredded carrots, drained pineapple, raisins, and walnuts. You may need to hand mix at this point to incorporate everything.

5. Pour batter into prepared cake pans, spread batter to create a smooth surface.

6. Bake in oven for 60 - 70 minutes. Check for doneness about ten minutes before the time is up, because ovens temperatures vary a little. Check with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean. If not continue to cook for the last 10 minutes. When it comes out clean, remove pans from oven carefully, and let the cakes rest for 10 minutes in the pan. Invert onto cooling rack. After an hour, cover gently with foil, and let rest for a couple more hours, or overnight before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
I cut this recipe in half for you, so you don't have to have the extra frosting on hand like I had originally. If you want to skip this part and just go for all buttercream, I don't blame you! Although, I love the pairing of cream cheese frosting and carrot cake...

1/4 cup of butter, room temperature
4 oz of cream cheese , room temperature
1 1/2 - 2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp of vanilla extract

How To:
1. Combine butter and cream cheese. Beat well until very smooth and no lumps. Add one cup of powdered sugar at a time until it reaches the consistency you like. Add in the vanilla, mix again.

2. Position one layer of cake on a platter. On the bottom layer of the cake, generously frost the top with about 1/4 inch thick of frosting. Drag out frosting to the edge, no need for prettiness yet. Stack the top layer of cake over the bottom layer with the frosting becoming the filling.

3. Check around edges of cake. If need be, shave off any unevenness. Clean up any crumbs using a damp rag, and create a clean work surface on the platter.

4. Lightly frost the rest of the cake. Only just to cover, and in some spots you may still see the brown cake showing through. This layer of thin frosting is just for the cream cheese frosting taste. Later you will finish the cake properly with the whipped buttercream frosting.

5. Place cake in fridge to keep frosting firm while you prepare the buttercream.
Whipped Vanilla Buttercream
Prep Time: 5 min Yield: About 3 1/2 cups, or perfect for 24 cupcakes
Adapted from Betty Crocker's The Big Book of Cupcakes

Note: I have substituted this recipe in place of the traditional buttercream I originally had, as of 9/25/12. I love the light airiness of this frosting, and it isn't too sweet. It also pipes great. I have included my interpretation of this piping method, but if you would like to read more, please check out the source of this technique! 

2 cups butter, softened (not melted)
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup whipping cream
Optional: walnuts for decoration

How To:
1. In a large bowl, beat butter until smooth. Add in powdered sugar gradually. Mix until no lumps.

2. Add in vanilla and the whipping cream. Beat for four minutes until the frosting is very fluffy and light.

3. If you would like more frosting coverage, dollop a large scoop on to the cake. Spread evenly and out to the edges. Also cover any spots showing on the side of the cake if the cream cheese frosting didn't cover everything. The sides can have a thin layer of frosting, just make sure the top really looks nice (unless you decide to finish the cake by piping the dots on the top too).

4. Scoop the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large dot attachment. Leave about 1/3 room in the bag. Fold over the top and twist. Hold with one hand at the twist, and the other near the nozzle.

5. On the cake, make four dots top to bottom. Smear the dots in a rightward motion with a spoon or small spatula. Make the dots again where the previous dots taper out. Continue all the way around the cake. To make the heart on the top of the cake, make one dot, smear down, and make a second dot near the first. Smear that dot towards the point of the first smear.
*If at any point the frosting gets "weepy" place the cake and frosting in the fridge for 10 minutes to get it firm again. 
6. I finished my cake with crumbled walnuts, and also used them to cover up the seam of the dots.

View my kitchen tested version, with alternate ways to decorate! The photos displayed on this original post show the cream cheese frosting on the top, and the old fashioned buttercream frosting for the dots down the sides. The kitchen test post shows photos of a cake done with all whipped buttercream, and a smaller cake with a flower design using this dot technique. 

Also try this cake in cupcake form! A post from my previous blog on Fruity Carrot Cupcakes.

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