Carrot Cake: Take 2
Monday nights are usually my “me” nights. Doodle bug usually goes down to sleep around 7:30, and my husband doesn’t get home from school until 10:30. So, for three glorious hours I don’t have anyone calling my name, needing something from me, or needing my attention for whatever reason. I would have had this post up last night, but my husband stayed home sick from school last night. Because he was home, Doodle bug wanted to be up with her daddy, and she fell asleep in my arms instead of in bed. Not that I didn’t enjoy getting to spend some quality family time together, of course, but I didn’t get the chance to sit down last night and write about my very first recipe.
My parents and sister came down this weekend to spend some time with us (mostly Doodle bug…they swear they come to see us, but I know the truth ;] ). I took advantage of having a house full of people to try out my carrot cake recipe on. It was so much easier getting some baking done while the grandparents were entertaining the little one. Using my experiences from the first carrot cake recipe and deciding what I wanted to do differently with my own, I have created what I believe to be an almost perfect carrot cake recipe. I think I was a little too overzealous with my desire to have a moist carrot cake. I believe I added about ¼ cup too much oil or ¼ cup too little flour. Either way, it didn’t bake quite right in the center. It seemed to be baking perfectly, rising, and browning to golden perfection. Then I stuck in a toothpick to check the center. Yikes! It was still not done after an hour in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Leaving it in the oven for another 20 minutes baked it enough to be done without burning or over-baking the outside. It was still a little too moist, but at least it was cooked. The next time I try to make it, I will either add another egg to hold things together better, or ¼ cup less oil.
Moisture aside it tasted delicious. The flavor was great. It was much sweeter and tastier than the first recipe. Using the all purpose flour instead of whole wheat flour and using finely grated instead of coarsely grated carrots gave the cake a much smoother texture. I also used one more carrot than the previous recipe. Like I predicted, the extra carrot made the cake just a tad bit sweeter and I didn’t need to add quite as much brown sugar to make it sweeter.
One thing I think I will do differently next time I make it will be to add fewer spices. It tasted more like a holiday cake than an everyday carrot cake. Around Thanksgiving or Christmas time, the amount of spices I used would be perfect, but for spring and summer I think I will cut out the cloves. The reason I added the cloves in the first place was because the first cake was a bit bland. I think I can achieve the right flavor with no cloves and a little more cinnamon or 1/8 tsp more nutmeg.
My family seemed to be fans of the actual cake. My mom said she would have liked it with raisins, but that it was tasty. I could very well add raisins to it for diversity in the future, but I personally like my carrot cake sans raisins. My sister who detests carrot cake said that it tasted good (big kudos for me if you know how picky of an eater she can be). My dad will eat literally anything, and he is proud of me no matter what I do. So, I can’t really go off of what he had to say (he said he really liked it). So the burden of the review fell mostly on my husband’s shoulders. Since he was the only person besides me to have tasted the first cake, his opinion was probably the most helpful. He liked the texture and consistency of this cake much more than the first one. He said it was much moister than the first cake, and the flavor was better. The only thing he didn’t like was the icing.
I knew it wasn’t going to taste the same as the first time I made it, because I was in a rush. My family was getting ready to leave at that point, and I hadn’t set out the butter and cream cheese to room temperature. Ergo, I had to melt them in the microwave (which made them too soft) and I had to add too much sugar to thicken it to the right consistency. Basically I broke the cardinal rule of baking: everything must be at room temperature! Otherwise you will end up with a cake that cracks or an icing that is MUCH too sweet because you had to build up the consistency with sugar (or end up with twice as much frosting as you actually need just to make the recipe taste normal).
The sweetness of the icing took away from the flavors in the carrot cake. I know what I did wrong, and it is something easily remedied for next time. I know to take out the cloves, add raisins (maybe), and use about ¼ cup less oil. I know to have everything at room temperature so that the icing doesn’t become way too sweet in order to fix the consistency. The perfectionist in me wants to keep going until I find the absolute perfect recipe. The rational side of me is screaming “STOP EATING CARROT CAKE!” I know I’m carrot caked out for now, and my husband probably is too. I’ll revisit the carrot cake again once our taste buds have had a change of scenery for a while.