Sunday, April 24, 2011

Carrot Cake and Happy Easter!

I've become addicted to baking on the weekends for Saturday posts. I'm going to have to make themes around baking for each month if I'm going to keep it up. Anyhow, I made a carrot cake yesterday for today's Easter festivities, then my mom turned it into a bunny! It's really cute! Last weekend I took too many pictures and didn't end up using half of them. So this time, I took fewer of them. This recipe is again a Paula Deen one, and it couldn't be easier!

Butter for pans (this works better than a butter spray, like Pam)
2 cups flour, plus more for pans (flouring your pans makes the cakes come out easily)
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups grated carrots (about 1lb of big carrots, peeled)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (if you don't like nuts, feel free to take them out)

First start by pre-heating your oven to 350 F (175 C). Now, take some parchment paper and line the bottoms of three 9in round pans. To do this, just trace the bottom of the pan onto the parchment paper and cut it out. I don't have three pans that size, I only have two. So I made cupcakes with the extra batter. Use the butter to grease the sides of the pan (anything not covered by parchment paper) and then flour them. The flour will stick to the places with butter and it won't stick anywhere else. To flour a pan, put some flour in the pan and sort of shake it around and tap the bottom to coat the sides in flour. Now, if you have a big standing mixer, use that to make the batter. If you don't, a hand mixer (one that plugs in with the egg beater things on the ends) will work. You could do it by hand, but if you have an electric mixer, save yourself the trouble of stirring by hand. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Add the eggs and oil and mix it all up. Now, add in the carrots. I used a food processor with a grater attachment to grate my carrots. If you don't have one, use a cheese grater. Matchstick carrots from a bag won't really work for this, sorry! Mix in the carrots, and if you're adding the nuts in, mix those in too. Now, your batter is all done!

Pour the batter into your buttered, floured, and parchment paper lined pans. Again, I didn't have three, so I made two big rounds and six cupcakes. Put them in the oven for 40 minutes. If you're making cupcakes like I did, check them after 20 minutes! In general, you want to
check your cakes about half way and 3/4 of the way through the recommended baking time. Every oven is different. Mine baked the cupcakes in 20 minutes and the big ones were done in 30. Your's might be different. So check them! When they're done, take them out of the oven and let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Then you want to pop the cakes out of the pans and let them cool completely on a wire cooling rack. While they cool, make the icing! Cream cheese icing is classic with carrot cake. I can't imagine having it any other way.

2 (two) 8-oz packages cream cheese (don't get the ones in a plastic tub!) at room temp.
1 stick salted butter, at room temp.
1 (one) 16-oz package powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans (again, you can leave them out if you don't like them. I chose to omit them and use them as a garnish)

Put everything into a big bowl and mix it up. It's a super easy icing! Powdered sugar flies
everywhere, so a tall bowl is best. If you're adding nuts into the icing, add those in and use a rubber scraper to stir them in. If you want to dye some icing to make some carrots on the top of your cake, you can separate out portions of the icing and use food coloring or colored sugar to dye it. I didn't do this because my cake turned into a bunny. If you are going to dye some, don't add the nuts in, it's not going to work well with them in. Ice the cakes once they'recompletely cool. You start on one cake and put some icing on the top. Spread it around and then start stacking. Each layer should have some icing in between. Once all three cakes are stacked, go ahead and ice the sides and top. Take your time and have fun! I made those little cupcakes, then I cut the curved top off and stacked them to make an extra tall mini-cake! I topped mine with the chopped pecans, it looks fancy this way.

I didn't get a chance to make the tea for this one, but I grabbed some Dragonwell green tea to go with this. Dragonwell comes from the Zhejiang province of China and is processed by hand! It has a lightly sweet flavor with a little nuttiness. It complements the light nut flavor of the carrot and pecans in the cake, while breaking up the sweetness of the cream cheese icing. And since it's a green tea, it's super good for you, with all those antioxidants and detoxifying properties. Green teas have been shown to actually mop up the free radicals floating around in your body, which helps prevent cancer.

The coordinate for this one is kind of quirky and cool looking. I went with a more classic theme overall, but with some vintage elements.
This gorgeous dress is a Mary Magdalene one. It has a ton of fine details, yet from far away it reads as a simple piece. I went with cream as the base color, as it's much easier and common in Lolita fashion than orange is. I used orange as a secondary color with the tights, the laces of the shoes, the cardigan, and bits of the jewelry. The vintage bag echoes the vintage feeling of the granny boots. I used bunny jewelry for an Easter theme, but you could use whatever you'd like. A simple crocheted flower in your hair is a perfect spring accessory.

I'm really loving this post, and I can't wait to go eat my bunny cake later. I'm also looking forward to next saturday, the last one of the month has to be super duper special. Submit your tea and/or cake themed coordinates for this week's coordinate tuesday and see them featured here!! Email them to me at! If you've got a question for me, ask me on my Formspring and I'll answer it! Happy Easter!

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