Larry shared this wonderful dessert at the February board meeting. It was so delicious we felt it needed to be shared. Serves 15 To 18, Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes (Plus 2 hours cooling time)
Carrot Sheet Cake
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: Carrot cake was once heralded for its use of vegetable oil in place of butter, and carrots as a natural sweetener. Sure, the carrots add sweetness, but they also add a lot of moisture. And oil? It makes this cake dense and, well, oily. We wanted a moist, not soggy, cake that was rich, with a tender crumb and balanced spice. Cake flour proved too delicate to support the grated carrots, so we started with all-purpose. Some carrot cakes use a heavy hand with the spices; we took a conservative approach and used modest amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. We settled on 1 pound of grated carrots for a pleasantly moist texture, and 1/2 cups of vegetable oil for a rich, but not greasy, cake. For a simple mixing method, we mixed the dry ingredients separately from the wet ingredients before slowly whisking them together and then stirring in the carrots. You can serve the cake right out of the pan, in which case you'll need only 3 cups of frosting for the top of the cake.
2½ cups (12½ ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs
1½ cups (10%½ ounces) granulated sugar
½ cup packed (3½ ounces) light brown sugar
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated 4 cups Cream Cheese Frosting (page 693)
1 cup golden raisins
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 13 by 9-inch baking pan (or two 9 by 9-inch pans) and line bottom with parchment paper. Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves together in bowl.
2. In large bowl, whisk eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together until sugars are mostly dissolved and mixture is frothy. Continue to whisk while slowly drizzling in oil until thoroughly combined and emulsified. Whisk in flour mixture until just incorporated. Stir in golden raisins and carrots. Give batter final stir by hand.
3. Scrape batter into prepared pan, smooth top, and gently tap pan on counter to settle batter. Bake cake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.
4. Let cake cool completely in pan, about 2 hours. Run paring knife around edge of cake and flip cake out onto wire rack. Peel off parchment, then flip cake right side up onto serving platter. Spread frosting evenly over top and sides of cake and serve. Sprinkle chopped walnuts on top of frosted cake.
Cream Cheese Frosting
MAKES ABOUT 4 CUPS
TOTAL TIME 15 MINUTES FAST
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: Cream cheese frosting is the perfect partner for carrot cake, and we enriched our version with sour cream for extra tang, and vanilla for depth of flavor. We found that first mixing the ingredients together on a lower speed, until they were well combined, and then turning up the speed gave us more control of the texture, ultimately producing a pleasing fluffy frosting. Do not use low-fat or nonfat cream cheese or the frosting will turn out too soupy to work with. This frosting has a softer, looser texture than other frostings; it won't work with a three-layer cake. If the frosting becomes too soft to work with, let it chill in the refrigerator until firm.
1 pound cream cheese, softened
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened
2 tablespoons sour cream 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups (8 ounces) confectioners' sugar
1. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat cream cheese, butter, sour cream, vanilla, and salt together on medium- high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, slowly add confectioners' sugar, and beat until incorporated and smooth, about 4 minutes.
2. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. (Frosting can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; let soften at room temperature, about 1 hour, then rewhip using mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.)