John Barricelli's Carrot Cake
This eclectic cake has traditionally included a little bit of everything: flour, nuts, buttermilk, and carrots. John Barricelli, resident baker on "The Martha Stewart Show" and a cohost of "Everyday Food," adds to that list candied carrot strips and fresh ginger and orange zest in the cream cheese frosting for enchanting results.
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted plus more for pans
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 1 cup (3 ounces) pecan halves
- 1 pound large carrots, peeled
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
- Candied Carrot Strips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour, and tap out any excess. Set aside. Spread pecans in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan, and toast in oven until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand until completely cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Finely chop pecans and set aside.
Using the smallest holes (less than 1/4-inch in diameter) of a box grater, grate carrots, yielding 2 1/2 cups. Place carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, and ginger in a large bowl; mix until well combined.
Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until combined. Fold in the butter and toasted pecans.
Divide batter between the two cake pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.
Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes so surfaces are level. Slice each layer in half crosswise. Place a layer on a cake stand or cardboard round, and spread 3/4 cup frosting over top. Place a second cake layer on top, and spread with another 3/4 cup frosting. Repeat with third layer and another 3/4 cup frosting. Place last cake layer on top, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill 3 to 4 hours.
If using the candied carrot strips, set a wire rack over a baking pan. Using fingers, lift one candied carrot strip from the sugar syrup, holding it over the container. With the thumb and forefinger of second hand, gently squeeze the carrot strip and slide fingers along its length, removing as much excess syrup as possible; lay the carrot strip on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining carrot strips.
Gently place tapered end of drained carrot strip in center of cake, and gently press it down the side; place a second strip next to it. Continue applying strips around entire cake every 2 inches. Form 2 or 3 strips into a decorative bow, and place on top. Cut cake, and serve.