Carrot Cake for 100

My dear friends Daryle and Heather got married last weekend. I made the cake.

Heather’s favourite cake is carrot, which thrilled me to no end. Wedding cakes take a while to decorate, which means that you need to bake them a bit ahead, and do your best to keep them from going stale before the reception. Carrot cake stays naturally moist and delicious for days.

The wedding theme was travel, a passion of both Daryle and Heather’s, and the entrance to the reception was decorated with old-fashioned suitcases. Unbeknownst to Heather, I obtained a photograph of them ahead of time, and copied them with the cake. Each tier is a different suitcase.

All in all, this cake took about 20 hours to bake, frost, and decorate. The decorations are done with a 1:1 blend of fondant and modeling chocolate, which is my preferred medium to work with because it creates an optimum balance between actually tasting good and being easy of roll and shape.

I’m quite pleased with my decorating job, though not with my cake leveling skills. The suitcases are a bit off-kilter. It’s been a while since I’ve done a wedding cake.

Wedding Carrot Cake (multiply by 6 to feed 100)

  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup drained, crushed pineapple
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan.
  2. Combine the oil, sugar, carrots, pineapple, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  3. Add the eggs and stir until well mixed.
  4. Add the flour and stir until just blended.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 40-45  minutes, until center of cake is set.
  6. Immediately after taking the cake out of the oven, poke it several dozen times, all over with a toothpick, and pour on hot buttermilk glaze. Let cool completely and frost with white chocolate  cream cheese frosting.

Buttermilk Glaze

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 T. golden syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. About 15 minutes before cake is finished baking, combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture will foam considerably. This is normal. Do not panic. Just keep simmering and stirring.
  2. Pour hot glaze over the hot cake.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 8 oz white chocolate, melted and cooled until only slightly warm
  1. Beat the cream cheese and butter with the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla until well blended.
  2. Keep beating while you slowly drizzle in the white chocolate.
  3. Continue to beat until frosting is light and fluffy.

PB Cookies FTW

We’re back! I meant to post this before we left on vacation, but I ran out of time, even for such a fast and simple recipe as this one.

I first encountered it years ago in Gourmet magazine, where they were called Mom-Mom Fritch’s Peanut Butter Cookies. I tried them and fell in love, instantly. It is the only peanut butter cookie recipe I have used since then. That’s nearly 15 years worth of peanut butter cookies. In the intervening years the internet has discovered and popularized them, providing them with a fame they richly deserve.

You can play around, adding chocolate chunks, crushed malt balls, or chopped peanuts. But the bottom line is that no matter what you do they are the only peanut butter cookie I’ve ever made that really, really tastes like peanuts. Other cookies have a faint peanut aftertaste. These are pure peanut through and through.

The secret to getting the right texture and flavor is to NOT OVERBAKE them. If you do they will be dry and crumbly. They should instead be thin and chewy.

No Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup smooth, all-natural peanut butter, with salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Stir the sugar into the peanut butter. Stir in the egg, then the baking soda and vanilla.
  3. Scoop the dough out by teaspoonfuls. Roll these into balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  4. Flatten each cookie with the back of a fork, making a cross-hatch pattern in the top.
  5. Bake for 8 minutes, until puffed, and just starting to brown. Do not overbake them. I’m serious. Do not overbake.
  6. The cookies will be very soft when you take them out of the oven. Let them sit for a couple of minutes, until they stiffen enough to remove to a cooling rack.


Ice Cream Sculptures

Continuing our foods of NY vacation series…

On Thursday I took my children to the Momofuku Milk Bar in Midtown Manhattan. We liked it so much that today we went to the one on the Upper West Side. Jasper (the 7-year-old) had cereal milk ice cream, which, I admit, I do not find appetizing, and Berend (the 9-year-old) had pink lemonade ice cream, which is more my style. The guava-horchata at the Midtown location is still my favourite, though. And the marshmallow cornflake cookies. I could live on those, or the crack pie.

The Milk Bar serves its ice cream in little paper cups, with a small wooden ice cream spoon. Berend, ever the artist, decided to sculpt his ice cream as he ate. this is what he came up with.

No, I don’t know what it is either. Maybe I should have a contest to figure it out.

Jasper got into ice cream sculpting too. He says he wants to go into training to become a professional, though instead of using a wooden spoon, he intends to sculpt exclusively with his tongue.


Foods of New York

I may live in Alberta now, but I grew up in NYC. Every summer I come back with my kids for a visit. Needless to say I’m not baking while I’m here, but I am eating. So is Jasper, who loves hot dogs, especially NY hot dogs, and has sets a new goal for himself each year regarding how many he will eat while here. This year’s goal is 15 in 10 days, which he will easily beat if he keeps up his current consumption rate of 5 hot dogs in 2 days.

For the first hot dog of his trip we went to Papaya King, whose signage I love only slightly less than their hot dogs. They grill an amazing dog.

Double Chocolate Mango Raspberry Shortcakes with Espresso Cream

It’s a long title, but such a delicious one.

This month’s #bakeogether recipe is double chocolate strawberry shortcake. I love strawberry shortcake. I love chocolate. My children love strawberry shortcake. And they love chocolate too.

I was so excited to make this recipe! It is family tradition to have a strawberry shortcake supper every year when the local berries ripen. There was only one problem. My strawberries are late this year, and not quite ready for picking. (Here in Southern Alberta strawberry season doesn’t usually start until the end of June.)

On the other hand, I did happen to have a case of lovely, ripe mangoes sitting on my counter begging to be used. Right, mango shortcakes it is.

The double chocolate shortcake sounded perfect. I didn’t change a thing there, well, except to use yogurt instead of buttermilk, but I always do that.

To up the zing and add more color contrast to the mangoes, I tossed in a handful of frozen raspberries. I did no add any additional sugar, liqueur, salt, or anything, just mangoes and raspberries.

Mascarpone is woefully hard to find out here, so I was left with just cream for the topping. I beat in powdered sugar instead of granulated to help stabilize it, then, on a whim, added a shot of espresso. I know it sounds odd, but the idea of coffee and mango just sounded good together. And it is.

And yes, this was supper.

Here is a link to the original recipe, as posted by Abby. Below is her recipe with my modifications.

Double Chocolate Mango Raspberry Shortcakes with Espresso Cream

For the Shortcakes:

  • 4 oz. chilled butter, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Blend the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter and blend it into the flour with your fingers as though you were making pie dough (see Oh Boy, Strawberry Pie for directions).
  3. When only small pieces of butter remain unblended, add the yogurt and vanilla. Mix until it forms a shaggy, moist dough.
  4. Pat (do not roll) the dough out to about 1/2 inch thickness onto a lightly floured surface. Cut with a round cookie cutter. Reform scraps into a ball and pat out a 2nd time. Cut more shortbreads and discard the remaining scraps.
  5. Place dough rounds on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 20-22 minutes, until shortbreads are puffed, and spring back when you lightly press them in the center.

For the Espresso Cream:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold espresso
  1. Whip the cream with the sugar until foamy. Add the espresso and keep beating until soft peaks form.

For the Fruit:

  • 6 ripe ataulfo mangoes
  • 1/3 cup frozen raspberries
  1. Peel and dice the mangoes. Toss with the raspberries and let sit until the berries thaw.

To Assemble:

  1. Slice the warm shortbread in half.
  2. Spoon about 1 T. of cream on the bottom half of the shortbread.
  3. Add several large spoonfuls of fruit.
  4. Top the fruit with a large spoon of cream.
  5. Place the top half of the shortbread on the cream, and add another spoon of cream to the top of it.
  6. Sprinkle dessert with cacao nibs.