Carrot Ginger Layer Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
This recipe also makes two 6-inch layer cakes: Use four 6-by-2-inch round cake pans, and spread each layer with one-half cup of frosting.
- Unsalted butter, 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
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon 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, optional
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Dust pans with flour, and tap out any excess. Set pans aside. Spread pecans in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan, and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and let stand until completely cool. Reduce 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, vegetable oil, and ginger in a large bowl; whisk until well combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk 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 toasted pecans.
Divide batter between the two cake pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the middles comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.
Using a serrated knife, trim tops of the cakes so surfaces are level. Slice each layer in half horizontally. 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 the sides of the 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 your fingers, lift one candied carrot strip from the sugar syrup, holding it over the container. With the thumb and forefinger of your other hand, gently squeeze the carrot strip and slide your fingers along its length, removing as much excess syrup as possible; lay the carrot strip on the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining carrot strips.
Gently place tapered end of a carrot strip in center of cake, and gently press it down the side of the cake; place a second strip next to it. Continue applying strips around entire cake. Form 2 or 3 strips into a decorative bow, and place on top. Cut cake, and serve.