Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Carrot Cake from Best Light Recpes

So one of my resolutions this year is not just to bake more and improve my skills, but to find more ways to share what I make so it isn't just me chowing down and judging what is good and bad. I like what I like, which isn't always what everyone likes. So I decided to bring in goodies for Birthdays for my coworkers--we are pretty small, only about 10 of us at the location, so it is not a lot of people to treat. The one trick is that some don't eat sugar or try to eat healthy. Anyways, we had a birthday coming up and the staff member requested carrot cake. I tried to make some carrot cupcakes a while back that were terrible--as in I ate one and a half and threw the rest out. So I wanted to make something a step above that--and have something edible to bring in.

Selecting a recipe to try was difficult--it seems like half of my books have carrot cake recipes. So I decided to try three recipes and hope at least one turns out well enough to bring. The first one I'm going to post about is the recipe in The Best Light Recipe by Cooks Illustrated. I did a half batch and made some in a mini cupcake tin and some in a regular cupcake tin.

Ingredients (this is for the full batch, to split required some eyeballing):

2 1/2 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking power
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 pound carrots--about 3 cups

I don't have a food processor, so I went at my bag of carrots with my grater and some arm muscles. All together for the three batches I needed 2 pounds of carrots--I weighed after I grated, though I should have done it before--I ended up with more than I needed. I did all the carrots for all the cakes at once and set them aside. 

As with most ATK recipes, this relies not only on the ingredients, but the technique to produce the correct results. Dry ingredients are sifted together and set aside. The eggs and sugars are beat together until they are thick and creamy--which takes a couple minutes with an electric beater. Once that is mixed, the oil is added slowly while beating. this is clearly better if you don't use a stick beater or if you have three hands. The flour is added in two batches, stirring, not beating it in, until smooth, when the carrots are gently folded in.

This isn't a super runny or thin batter, especially with the carrots added in. So it needed to be divided into the pans with a spoon, not poured. I filled the cupcakes 3/4 of the way full and baked them in a 350 degree oven until a fork came out mostly clean. The mini muffins cooked for about 5 minutes and then I turned the pan and cooked them for another 5-6 minutes. The larger ones cooked about twice as long.

The Verdict: Moist and flavorful, with a very tender crumb. Not too sweet, with a light spice. This was probably the least popular at work, but I found this recipe and the craft of baking's recipe to have nearly indistinguishable results, though they have different methods and ingredients. The one thing I like about this recipe is that it has less oil but doesn't have a light taste--it is still moist and delicious.

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