I LOVE carrot cake!! Since I can remember this is my go to dessert when I'm at a restaurant. Until now I've never attempted to make this at home. Last week I realized that I still have lots of carrots in my garden. What better way to celebrate a fall harvest than with a cake? I followed a basic Martha Stewart recipe and made some changes to reduce the amount of butter and make it my own. Untill you make something at home, you never really know how much butter and / or cheese goes into a dish to make it so yummy. With my basic changes you really can't tell that I've doctored this classic!
Makes one 9-inch layer cake
1 (2 sticks) butter, melted plus more for pans
1/2 cup unsweetend apple sauce
1/2 crushed pineapple
1/2 cup raisins soaked and drained
3 cups all-purpose flour (you could use 1/2 wholewheat), plus more for pans
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour, and tap out any excess. Set aside. Spread pecans in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan, and toast in oven until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand until completely cool. Reduce oven 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, pineapple, nuts, raisins, vanilla, sugar, and ginger in a large bowl; mix until well combined.
Into a medium bowl, sift 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 butter.
Divide batter between the two cake pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.
Place a layer on a cake stand or cardboard round, and spread 3/4 cup frosting over top. Place last cake layer on top, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill 3 to 4 hours.
Frosts one 9-inch layer cake
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 - 3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
Pinch of salt
Place butter in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, and beat until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add sugar, orange zest, ginger, and salt, and beat for 5 minutes. If needed add buttermilk to loosen up the frosting.
NOTE: I used Neufchâtel instead of cream cheese because it's softer and lower in fat