Monday, December 21, 2009

HCB - double feature: Classic Carrot Cake and English Gingerbread Cake

Today's post consists two cakes from Rose's Heavenly Cakes book. The first one is the Classic Carrot Cake. It's very similar to my favorite carrot cake from America's Test Kitchen. They're both oil-based, with the same amount of carrots and sugar. The flour amount differs a bit. And Rose's recipe has an interesting ingredient: cocoa powder. This gave the carrot cake a beautiful dark color. A great backdrop for the shredded carrots. Instead of the white chocolate cream cheese frosting, I used my "standby" cream cheese frosting which I had in the freezer. Will have to try Rose's frosting recipe next time since everybody raved about it :o)

I made a few small changes to the recipe:
  • Cut the recipe in half and reduced the oil to 1/2 cup (4 oz by weight). Baked the cake in a 8"x8" glass pan.
  • Carrots and oranges are a match made in heaven, in my humble opinion. So I added 1/2 Tbsp of orange zest to the batter (zest of 1 orange).
  • Accidentally used bleached all-purpose flour. Glad I did because it produced a finer crumb.
  • For the most volume in the cake, beat the sugars, eggs and orange zest together until thick and pale colored. Slowly drizzle in the oil. This emulsifies the batter, the way it does when you're making a vinaigrette. Then add shredded carrots, followed by the addition of the dry ingredients in three steps.
  • Grated white chocolate on top of the cream cheese frosting for decoration.
Everybody who tried it, loved it. Myself included. In the end, it was the addition of the orange zest that set this carrot cake apart from others.

This week's Heavenly Cake Baker recipe was the English Gingerbread Cake. I was very happy that the cake didn't have any molasses. That, and the overuse of ginger is usually what makes me not like gingerbread cakes. Not at all the case here so I was excited to try it. Especially since I need a dessert to take to work tomorrow for a potluck.

The cupcakes are baking away...

I made the following changes to the recipe:
  • Since I didn't have orange marmalade, I used my friend's homemade spicy apple butter, and orange zest from 1/2 an orange.
  • Used white whole wheat flour for the whole wheat flour in the recipe.
  • Use two-thirds light corn syrup and one-third organic amber Agave Nectar from Mexico, so maybe I should call this Mexican Gingerbread Cake :o)
  • Yielded 22 cupcakes, which baked for 19 minutes in my convection oven.
After liberally brushing the cupcakes with the syrup, I still had a bit left, so I added powdered sugar to it and made a quick icing to drizzle on top for decoration

My husband calls this "playing around". Let me tell ya... this is fun :o)

The lemon butter syrup was delicious and I'm glad I didn't skip it. It added a nice zing. These cupcakes were light, fluffy, tender, moist, and mildly spicy. Oddly enough, I thought it could use more ginger flavor. Next time, I will add finely chopped candied ginger to the batter.

An inside look. Isn't that beautiful?


  1. Love your piping job when 'playing around'--and the simple drizzles looked great, too. Very nice. Your modifications to both cakes sound good.

  2. both your cakes look fabulous! i love how you piped the icing on the cupcakes making them so pretty! :)

  3. I see you've been super busy in the kitchen lately! I like the idea of orange zest for the carrot cake. will try that next time:)

  4. Both turned out so nicely Hanaa!

    What kind of oven is that - the window is HUGE.


  5. what a great idea to add a little powdered sugar to the lemon syrup to make icing! i also liked your your playing around decoration.

  6. Beautiful indeed, Hanaa!

    I love your addition of orange zest to the carrot cake too. I haven't tried that but it sounds like a great idea.

    These recipes look like two keepers.

    Have great holiday, Hanaa!

  7. Those sound great! Thanks for the suggestions

  8. I have a recipe for carrot cake that seems similar, and every one who tastes it says it is the best they ever had. instead of orange zest it calls for 1/4 cup orange juice, and includes a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of ground ginger. for the frosting i mix 1 packet of vanilla sugar with some sour cream or thick Greek yogurt and spread it on the cake while it is still warm. yummy.

  9. The cakes look so good. I bet it was fun baking them in your new kitchen!


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