Happy Spring! The garden looks so gorgeous right now, it’s ridiculous — the roses are about to pop open and the fragrance of the citrus blossoms is intoxicating. Of course, the garden looks picture perfect the one time we decide to do a mellow Easter over a big bash.
Even though the fashion call-out is swimsuits over party dresses and we’ll be using melamine over china, I’m still making Nanny’s Easter Egg Pie for breakfast and my traditional Stuffed Lamb with Feta and finishing with a bunny worthy dessert. This carrot coconut cake is beautiful and delicious — equally welcome poolside or presented on a silver pedestal. I’ve already baked a cake for Sunday and it’s waiting in the freezer for me. All that I’ll need to do is frost and decorate and dessert will be done.
The origins on this cake is from an old Alton Brown recipe. Over the years I’ve tweaked it into this rendition you see below. I’ve added coconut, which gives wonderful texture and upped the amount of spices. This cake has been winning praise over my coveted Coconut Cake, an indicator of just how good this tastes.
I love a “naked” look for this cake; I decorate with the tops of the carrots and whatever is flowering in the veggie garden. Right now it’s strawberry flowers, broccoli flowers, nasturtiums and rosemary flowers (not the stems, or it will over power the flavor!). All edible, beautiful and delicious!
When making a naked cake you really want to keep those nice curves along the sides. Lately, I’ve been loving the non-stick spray from Williams Sonoma in lieu of butter and flour. It releases a perfect cake every single time. Also, if you are making the cake in advance and plan to freeze it, cover well with plastic wrap and find a nice roomy spot in the freezer — if it’s smushed up against a box of frozen peas, it won’t be a pretty naked look.
Carrot Coconut Cake
Note: Also, if you’ve got a scale – use it! You will have better success baking every time weighing your ingredients over using the standard cup measurements. Also, I use my food processor for this recipe for both grating the carrots and mixing the liquid ingredients.
Unsalted butter or cooking spray for the pans
2 1/2 cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) grated carrots packed, medium grate (approximately 6–8 medium carrots)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) sweetened coconut
1 1/4 cup (10 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) dark brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Greek yogurt
3/4 cup grapeseed oil
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans or spray with above mentioned no stick spray. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt until fully combined. Now, add the grated carrots and coconut, tossing until well coated with the flour.
In the bowl of the food processor, combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and yogurt. With the processor still running, drizzle in the oil. Pour this mixture into the carrot and flour mixture and stir until just combined.
Pour into the prepared cake pans (dividing equally between the two pans, use a scale to do this precisely).
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 – 35 minutes rotating 180 degrees halfway through the cooking time. Insert a wooden toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean and the cake is beginning to “pull away” from the sides of the pan, it has finished baking. If at this point the toothpick is wet, reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for another 5 –10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan. After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes approximately 1 pint
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces, approximately 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Add cream cheese, butter, salt and vanilla to stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and blend on medium-high until creamy. Turn to low, add the sugar, and mix until fully incorporated.
To frost the cake in this naked fashion add the frosting to a piping bag and in pipe in a circular motion starting from the outside of the first layer and working your way in a spiral fashion. Add the second layer and press it a bit so the frosting shows between the layers. Then repeat spiral on the top and smooth with an offset spatula dipped in hot water. Dust with powdered sugar, add flowers and carrot tops to decorate.
Wishing you a beautiful weekend, however you’re celebrating!