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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Carrot Cake: To frost or Not to frost?

I know a lot of us have had some awful carrot cakes in our time but, please let me show you, how you can make it so your family will be coming back for seconds, no doubt!



My carrot cake recipe came from my mama's recipe box, I have altered some things here and there but, it has not taken away the wonderful taste of this classic carrot cake.  Another reason why I love this cake is because, it can be made as a breakfast bread, minus the frosting.  It can be made in a 13X9 cake pan and topped with some icing.

Or you can go over the top and make a three layer cake, loaded with cream cheese icing and coconut.  The third option is my son's favorite cake so much, it is now his birthday cake every year.  Mind you, my son is not a big vegetable eater by the way.

Ingredients

2 cups white flour (no self rising)

2 cups carrots (grated)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup (can) crushed pineapple

1 cup (sweetened) coconut flakes

2 cups walnuts

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup butter

2 (whole) large eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons (ground) cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ripe banana (mashed well with a fork before adding to your mixing bowl)

1/2 cups applesauce (homemade is better)

Frosting Ingredients

1 1/2 cups butter (unsalted)

2- 8 ounce packages cream cheese

5 cups powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon Vanilla extract

You can decorate your layer cake with (sweetened) coconut, nuts and I will even toast coconut and add that, it just depends are what I have and the mood I am in.

We're Off


Preheat your oven at 350 degrees.  Grease and flour your cake pans and set aside.

In a big mixing bowl place your sifted flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, mix then set aside.

This next step is essential:  Empty your can of crushed pineapple, open and place your pineapple into a mesh strainer.  With the back of your wooded spoon press out as much of the pineapple juice as you are able.

If you skip this step, you will be baking this cake for a long time and only end up with a burnt cake, that still jiggles in the middle.  

So please take the time to do this one step.

Let's Get Nutty...


My husband is so sweet he bought me a kitchenaid mixer but, if you do not have a stand up mixer than just use a bowl and a hand mixer, it will be just fine.

In your mixer/big bowl place your oil, eggs, sugar, buttermilk, carrots, coconut, pineapple, banana, applesauce and your vanilla extract. Mix on low for 2 minutes or until all ingredients are well incorporated.

I find it takes less time in a standing mixer. Add 1/2 your flour and mix for around 30 seconds and then add the other half of your flour, mix for another minute or until all flour is well incorporated.

Then stir your nuts into your batter with a spoon.

Pour in that Goodness


If you are making a sheet cake, pour your finished batter into a (well) greased & floured 13X9 cake pan, bake for 40 minutes or until a tooth pick is inserted in the middle of your cake and the toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on a rack and then frost.

If you want to make this a breakfast cake, omit the frosting, serve warm.  Making sure you have plenty of butter and honey to top it off.

Now if you are wanting to go all the way and make your carrot cake a bit fancy...

Pour your carrot cake batter into 3 'well' greased & floured 9 inch cake pans.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a tooth pick is inserted into the middle of your cakes and the tooth pick comes out clean.

Start Your Engines...


The day I am going to make this delicious cake, I take my butter and cream cheese out of the refrigerator and set them on my kitchen counter in the morning.  You need room temperature butter and cream cheese, or you end up with a chunky and not so tasty icing.

Place your softened butter and cream cheese in your mixing bowl, mix for 2 minutes until both ingredients are well incorporated and starting to get a bit fluffy. Turn your mixer on low and start to add your powdered sugar, one cup at a time.

Allow the powdered sugar to absorb into the butter/cream cheese before adding the next half of cup. Repeat until all powdered sugar is gone.

When all your powdered sugar is incorporated add your vanilla extract, turn your mixer up to medium and mix for 2 minutes, until you get a fluffy consistency.

You only need half of your icing if you are making a sheet cake, place the other half into a container (I am using Alabama Tupperware) and place in the freezer for your next cake.

When you want to make another sheet cake, take out your icing, place it in the refrigerator over night to thaw out.  When you are ready to use the icing, mix well.

Frosting 101


When I stated earlier that you are to grease and flour your cake pans, I really mean this when you are going to make this cake a 3 layer cake.  By well greasing and flouring your pans, you are then able to take these lovely cakes out with ease.

Also very important is, make sure your cakes are cooled down completely.

Lay your first layer down on your serving plate.  I do not cut this cake so as to make it even, I start with first layer and if I see that the first layer is a little lopsided, I will push it down, this cake if very forgiving.

When even then take 1/3 of your icing and ice the top and sides of that layer.  Repeat until you have covered all three layers.  I would usually tell you to place some wax/parchment paper around the cake, so you have a clean plate but, since you are adding coconut around the side, no one will spot a mistake and also, the coconut will hide any of the over flow of icing.

Make them Smile...



Yes there was a bit of work to be had but, all in all, putting a smile on the face of the ones you love it so well worth it.  Once you have made this cake a few times, it really comes a easy recipe and one, I am sure you will be serving many times over.

Homemade Applesauce

When serving brunch this is a wonderful breakfast bread to add to your mix, also try adding...

Baked Potato Quiche:  Mama's Got 'it' Loaded

All photographs are the property of Denise O.  Do not use unless you get 'my' written permission. All written material is owned by Denise O, it will not be 'used' (sharing my article is different, it is acceptable and appreciated) without 'my' written permission.  Just keeping it real folks.:)

Homemade Applesauce: Orange, Apples & Cinnamon, Oh My!

Very few aromas make a home warm and inviting than the smell of apples and cinnamon cascading throughout your home.  This applesauce recipe smells heavenly while cooking. It also is a very delicious dish on its own or added to a recipe to bring that recipe over the top.



Ingredients

8 apples (I used 6 red delicious and 2 granny smith)
1 cup apple juice
1/3 cup sugar (white)
1/2 cup honey (I used orange blossom)
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 lemon
pinch of salt

I like to use organic fruits, I know they are usually more expensive but, I will let you in on one of my secrets. When I see organic apples on sale and the price is the same as regular apples, I stock up.  I then will make a double or even a triple batch of this applesauce, as it stores well in your freezer.

AKA Alabama Tupperware

I place some (enough to feed my family as a side dish)  in freezer container so I can just take it out the night before I am going to serve my family say a, pork chop dinner.  I will also measure some of the applesauce out and place in quart side freezer bags, so I can take one out when I want to make the other recipes I use this applesauce in.

Peelingsssssss

In 2 large bowl add some cold water, cut your lemon in half.  Squeeze one half of your lemon in each bowl and add the halves to each bowl.

As you are peeling your apples, allow the peels to drop into one of your bowls.

When your apple is peeled, place your apple into the other bowl.  Continue until you have peeled all your apples and they are resting in your lemony water bath.

Yes I do have a surprise for the peelings, just set them aside.

Cut & Scoop

After you have peeled all of your apples, cut your apples in half.

Take a melon scoop and take out the core. Then cut each half of your apple and them them in quarters.

Place all your cut apples into the lemon water, until you are ready.

By placing them in the lemon water will help them from browning.

This whole procedure will only take about 10 minutes but, your apples (if not placed in the lemon water) will brown with a minute or two, so do not skip this step.

Pour that Liquid Gold



Place your cut up apples, apple juice, sugar, ornage marmalade, honey and 2 cinnamon sticks into your crockpot.  Place the lid on your crockpot, set your crockpot on high for 1 hour, stir, replace the lid and lower the setting on your crockpot to 'low'.

Cook for 4 hours, stirring every hour.  After 4 hours is up then add your brown sugar, mix well and then replace the lid.  With the temperature off, allow your apple sauce to sit for 15 minutes, mix and serve.

No Waste Here


If you are like I am and want to use most 'all' of the produce you have bought then continue with this next step.  You can make your bundles while the applesauce is simmering away.

Take your apple peels and split them up into six lunch baggies (no sense in using heavy duty bags) and set aside.

Then go to your spice cabinet and take out some of those whole cloves that have been just sitting on your shelf since the last holiday season, add 6 or 7 cloves per baggie.

Then place one cinnamon stick into each baggie, close the baggies up, place all our baggies into a gallon size freezer bag and place into your freezer.

Now when company is coming or you see that ever too curious neighbor heading your way, then grab a bag, place into a small sauce pan, take out a baggie and dump the contents into your pan.  After the apple peels & goodies have come to a boil, turn down the heat to a low simmer and just let that lovely aroma cascade all through your house and then you have delicious smelling home.

I Can Hardly Wait to Dig in


Now, I am sure you will find many ways to use this applesauce.  Mixed into a bit of yogurt for breakfast, placed into a cake recipe to replace most of the oil.  Just keep in mind the flavors you have going on in your pot and then allow your imagination take you away.

Yes  I do use this applesauce in a few of my dishes but, my absolute favorite way of eating this sweet goodness is sitting in a bowl next to a few pieces of ham and a side of green bean casserole.  Which ever way you want to use/serve this applesauce, I am sure your family will enjoy ever bite of it and ask for more.

The recipes I add my homemade applesauce to is...

Carrot Cake:  Done Three Ways!

Southern Style: Sweet Potato Casserole

All photographs are the property of Denise O.  Do not use unless you get 'my' written permission. All written material is owned by Denise O, it will not be 'used' (sharing my article is different, it is acceptable and appreciated) without 'my' written permission.  Just keeping it real folks.:)