Tuesday, September 18, 2012

ALTON BROWN’S CARROT CAKE, adapted half recipe

alton brown carrot cake (6)

It’s carrot cake time again.  I love trying out different recipes.  Alton makes his carrot cake in a 9” x 3” round cake pan.  I cut the recipe in half and baked it in a 6” x 2” round cake pan.  The remaining batter went into two (3-1/2”) ramekins.  His flavorings are different, and not everyone liked them.  I think the allspice was the fly in the ointment.  Still, the cake was good, and we enjoyed it.  I mean, is there such a thing as a bad carrot cake?
alton brown carrot cake
At least for now, my favorite carrot cakes remain Cook’s Illustrated’s 2003 Simple Carrot Cake and Pillsbury’s Carrot Cake with Creamy Supreme Frosting.   Sam’s Famous Carrot Cake runs a close second.
Alton’s recipe, compared to Cook’s Illustrated’s, has less spice, though his spice has a sharper flavor that doesn’t go well with the carrots.  He also uses less carrots, slightly less sugar, less salt, one less egg and no pineapple.  I doubled the salt and added coconut and pecans because Food Network reviewers complained about lack of flavor. 

Maybe we’re all too used to carrot cake that has something besides carrots and spices to develop flavor.  Interestingly,  Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe relies on cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; Pillsbury’s recipe uses only vanilla, no spices; yet both are perfectly balanced and have other ingredients (coconut, nuts, pineapple) that help to develop flavor.
Alton Brown’s Carrot Cake, adapted half recipe
Rating:  8.5 out of 10


6 oz. carrots, grated on large holes of box grater, then chopped (approximately 3 medium)
6 oz. (about 1-1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. allspice (I would leave this out for a milder spice taste)
1/8 tsp. cinnamon (I would increase this to 1/2 tsp.)
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (I would increase this to 1/4 tsp.) 1/2 tsp. Diamond kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (my addition, leave out if desired)
1/4 cup dried sweetened coconut (my addition, leave out if desired) 5 oz. sugar (about 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp.) 1 oz. dark brown sugar (about 2 Tbsp. packed) 1-1/2 eggs (or 1 egg + 1 egg white)
3 oz. plain regular yogurt (or mix nonfat Greek yogurt with milk to make 3 oz.) 3 oz. vegetable oil

Heat oven to 350F.  Butter and flour a 6” x 2” round cake pan, plus two (3-1/2”) ramekins.  Line bottoms with parchment paper that has been cut to fit.  Set aside.

Place grated carrots in large bowl.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in bowl of food processor.  Pulse for 5 seconds, add to carrots and toss till carrots are coated with flour mixture.  Stir in pecans and coconut (if using). 

Combine sugars, eggs and yogurt in bowl of food processor.  Pulse 5-10 seconds to mix, then, with motor still running, add oil through feed tube.  Pour mixture over carrot/flour mixture and stir just till combined.  Pour into prepared pans.  Bake on middle rack of oven for 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325F and bake another 10-12 minutes for ramekins, another 22-24 minutes for cake, or till internal temperatures reach 205F in centers.  Cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to finish cooling.

Cream Cheese Frosting: 4 oz. cream cheese or Neufchatel, soft
2 oz. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, soft
1/2 tsp. vanilla powder or vanilla extract
About 1 to 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, depending on your taste

Combine cheese and butter in medium bowl.  Mix on medium speed of electric mixer till smooth and well combined.  Gradually sift powdered sugar and vanilla powder (if using) into cream cheese/butter mixture while mixing on low speed.  If using vanilla extract, stir in now.  Refrigerate frosting 15-30 minutes before using to firm it up. 


Valerie said...

Judy, this looks wonderful!! I love carrot cake, and Alton Brown's recipes. :D

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Mmmmmm I am never sure which I like best the cake or the icing, this looks wonderful. Diane