Now that we've been making cakes together for a couple months, I think it's time I share a little secret with you. I don't like carrot cake. Not. At. All. The carrots I can handle, but nuts and raisins in a cake? No thanks! Why would someone want to ruin a perfectly good spice cake with nuts and raisins. Sorry, that's just not my jam. Yet, every year around Easter, I try a bite of carrot cake, hoping I'll like it. I never do.
You're probably now asking yourself why I'm posting about carrot cake if I dislike it so much. Well, let me tell you because there's a good reason I'm posting about this particular carrot cake. It's actually amazing.
A couple years ago I was asked to make a carrot cake for a family event, and because I don't bake cakes that I wouldn't eat, I was adamant about finding a carrot cake recipe that was not only nut and raisin free but also unique and different from what everyone else makes year after year.
I checked a couple of my go-to cake blogs and quickly found the perfect carrot cake recipe (in my opinion). The recipe originates from the Ontario-based magazine, LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, but I found it on Sweetapolita.com. Rosie raved about the flavors and textures and I knew if it had her stamp of approval, it was going to be a hit.
Aside from the fact that this cake doesn't have nuts and raisins in it (which, that alone, makes it a winner for me), one of my favorite things about this cake is the zingy chunks of crystallized ginger. When you take a bite of this cake and start chewing on pieces of candied ginger, it will change the way you think about carrot cake. I promise. This cake also uses a white chocolate frosting instead of a cream cheese frosting - another reason I love it so much.
Lots of carrot, lots of ginger, lots of texture and flavor!
So even if you're not a huge fan of carrot cake, I urge you to try this one and see if it changes your mind, like it did for me. And I would love to know if it does!
Zingy Orange Ginger Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Icing (recipe source: Sweetapolita/LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, Spring 2011)
Yield: one 9-inch layered cake
For the Cake
5 cups ( 1.25 L) grated carrots
1/2 cups (125 ml) finely chopped crystallized ginger or stem ginger in syrup
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 ml) baking powder
1 tsp (5 ml) baking soda
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) ground ginger
1 cup (250 ml) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) granulated sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) vanilla
2/3 cup (150 ml) milk
For the Icing
1 cup (250 ml) butter, at room temperature
6 squares (6 oz/175 g) white chocolate
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla
3/4 tsp (4 ml) almond extract
Generous pinch of salt
3 cups (750 ml) sifted confectioners' sugar
Chopped crystallized ginger
For the Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or lightly oil two 9-inch round cake pans.
2. Grate carrots using a food processor. Measure out 5 cups. Finely chop ginger. Grate peel from orange. Set each aside separately. Place flour in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger. Stir until blended. Sprinkle in orange peel while stirring.
3. Place butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat on medium for 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, then vanilla. Don't worry if it seems curdled. Beating on low, gradually add about a third of the flour mixture. Beat until just mixed, followed by half the milk. Repeat additions, ending with flour. Sprinkle chopped ginger and stir to distribute. Stir in carrots.
4. Divide batter between pans. Spread as evenly as possible to side of pans. To remove air pockets, bang pans on counter 5 to 6 times. Bake until centers seem set when lightly tapped, 30-35 minutes. Place on a baking rack to cool. After about 15 minutes, turn cakes out of pans and cool completely on racks. It's best to bake cakes a day ahead of icing and leave at room temperature overnight.
For the Icing
1. Beat butter in a bowl with an electric mixer until very creamy. Place chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave on medium for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir, then microwave on medium for another minute. Stir until smooth. Gradually beat into butter. Add vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar. Beat for 2-3 minutes, until fluffy.