Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie—Carrot Cake

Carrot cake is a classic, favorite dessert. Dorie’s recipe has some great additions too: coconut, raisins, and nuts. I used walnuts and for fun tried using white carrots in half the batter and orange carrots in the other half.

Homemade versus store-bought


There’s no question that homemade carrot cake is better than store-bought. For one, you can avoid trans fats in homemade versions. Plus, it tastes better. I bought a package of mini carrot cakes from the grocery store to compare, and none of us liked them. They were more spicy and left a chemical after-taste.

White carrots


When I saw white carrots in the store, I knew it would be fun to try in this week’s carrot cake recipe. There are other colored carrots you can buy, such as purple, yellow, or red, but white were the only unusual ones I found before the Tuesday deadline. I found these gems after I'd made the cake and found the darker they are, the sweeter they are.

Since white carrots aren’t as sweet as the orange ones, I thought this would be an interesting balance to the sweetness of the cake and icing.

Carrot cake challenge
Over at Cakespy, they experimented with the “cake meets vegetable” angle and tried other vegetables like broccoli, snap pea, radish, parsnip, and Brussels sprouts. Head on over there to find out which one everyone liked!

Garnishes
I crave a “crunchiness” in every dish, so I added a couple of garnishes that would feed this craving.

For one, I made some candied walnuts. I mixed some walnuts with 2 tablespoons of corn syrup, ½ tablespoon maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon sugar. I spread this nut mixture on a Silpat and popped it in a 325ºF oven for 15 minutes. They added a nice crunch on top of the cake or sprinkled around the plate.

I also took an idea from Michel Richard in Happy in the Kitchen, and deep fried julienned carrots. Before deep frying them, I dredged them with cornstarch so that the water in the carrots didn't cause the oil to boil over. After frying, I sprinkled them with icing sugar and used immediately (or as soon as I could get everything plated and ready for the camera!). They don’t retain their crunchiness for long.

Another idea from Michel Richard was to make homemade vanilla ice cream with chunks of carrot cake in it. I took the simple route and used my mixer to stir in carrot cake chunks into store-bought vanilla ice cream. This was a great way to make plain ol’ vanilla ice cream delicious.


Finally, I made a carrot syrup from Michel Richard’s cookbook. Into some sugar syrup that’s turned a caramel color (like the caramel for crème caramel), I added freshly squeezed carrot and orange juice and boiled it down. It had a beautiful, rich color and took Dorie’s simple, but tasty dessert up a notch.

Cool baking pan and other fun stuff
I found this cool baking pan in my research about this recipe.


I also found a cute cartoon about carrot cake at this link.

Recipe


You can find the recipe for Bill's Big Carrot Cake at Amanda's blog called Slow Like Honey or in the book Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. To see how the rest of the TWD group fared with this week's recipe, click here and then click on each blogger!


Tasting Notes
This is a great carrot cake recipe. The addition of coconut and raisins makes it extra special. Soaking the raisins in rum beforehand might be a nice variation for next time.

The white carrots were more popular in the cake than the orange ones. The cake made with the orange carrots was a touch sweeter. Although, I liked the color of the orange carrots in the cake, side-by-side, the white ones win in the tasting category.

This is another keeper recipe from Dorie!

Recipe for Next Week (April 29)
Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake on pages 200-201 chosen by Caitlin of Engineer Baker.





36 comments:

Christie @ fig & cherry said...

What a fantastic idea to use white carrots - I wonder what it would look like with purple carrots??

I love the carrot shaped baking dish!

ps. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

amanda. said...

Oh wow, all your pictures are beautiful! I love the white carrot idea but I don't think I could find them around here.

I also love the carrot baking dish. I used to have a bell pepper dish but I think it got left at our last apartment when we moved. :(

Heather said...

Wow! What a great idea with the white carrots! I'll have to try that next time. I like to use a combo of carrot and grated zucchini in my cake usually. A garden cake if you will!

Chez US said...

Fantastic presentation. What a great idea about experimenting with different carrots. Great job!!

Madam Chow said...

Another great post!

carrie said...

You know, I've never even seen a white carrot!

diva said...

cool baking dish! and yes, homemade over storebought any day mate! hurray for carrot cake. the one thing i always eat without feeling guilty, cause it's so damn good.

s, i really love your blog, woop woop ;) x

Mary said...

I am so imporessed I don't know what to say. This is one of the best postings for TWD I have ever seen! thank you for all of the information and photos...I see white carrots all the time but have never bought them. seriously, great job!

bakingwiththeboys said...

Your pictures are gorgeous. Great idea with the white carrots. We have a lot of colored carrots at the farmer's market near me in the summer. This may be a future experiment...

Lori said...

Great pics, very professional looking!

CB said...

I had no idea there were other color carrots. Thanks for the carrot lesson. Your cake turned out fabulous. Awesome pictures! Great job!
Clara @ I♥food4thought

Mevrouw Cupcake said...

As per usual you've turned out a stunning post! I've never seen white carrots before, that's just the coolest!

Lynda said...

I just took my carrot cake out of the oven and it smells so good. Your pictures are really well done. Thanks for all the background information.

Andrea said...

Your garnishes sound amazing. I think the carrot and orange juice sauce will need to be attempted (one day). I am thinking beet juice could be amazing as well (Amazing pink to red without the food coloring dramas...)
I had also thought about the rum flambe things for the raisins but tried to stay true to the original recipe for the first time.

soulafa said...

Very cute!!
I love the idea of using white carrots, it's really interesting how the carrot cake can be explored and re-invented in so many ways.

Thanks for stopping by my blog:):)

Melissa said...

Wow...love the experimenting!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

how cool to use white carrots! and the whole plated dessert is amazing! (carrot cake ice cream sounds soooo good)

Annemarie said...

I never would have thought of using white carrots, I love that idea! Nice job & beautiful pics!

Joycey said...

wow...white carrot cake! I'm very intrigue to try that the next round...

love the carrot-shaped dish, it's so cute.

EAT! said...

I rarely see white carrots - I will now be on the lookout. Carrot cake is one of those almost perfect desserts - delicious and semi-nutritious. Time to make one today.

Thanks for the link!!

Bumblebutton said...

Gosh, you were so ambitious with this! I feel sheepishly inadequate. All versions were delightful, and your post so interesting. And what a great idea to juxtapose the 'fake cake' ingredient list against your homemade versions! Great job!

Dianne said...

Wow! It looks like you had a lot of fun experimenting! I love the white carrot idea. I wonder how purple carrots would work...

Marie said...

Beautiful pictures and informative as always! I love, LOVE, LOOOOVE the carrot pan! Funny that you mentioned carrot cake ice cream . . . I was thinking when I made this cake that Carrot cake ice cream would be lovely, much better than chocolate chip cookie dough!

Sarah said...

white carrots? wow...that is creative...i wouldn't even know where to find them here. They look amazing though...great job!

LyB said...

Very impressive post! I've never even seen white carrots anywhere, quite intriguing, and I love the different shapes of your cakes, very fun!

briannalee said...

fantastic job!
I love the white carrot cake, and that carrot baking dish is so cute :)

PheMom said...

You seriously amaze me! You do such a great thorough job and your pictures are awesome! Great job! Very creative, not to mention super yummy looking!

Jayne said...

Excellent post! And I love the carrot shaped baking pan. AND Michel Richard - he's wonderful - it made me smile when you referenced him. Beautiful cakes - and how cool - white carrots! I haven't seen those before.

mimi said...

love the little bundt carrot cakes, they look so brown (but in a good way!) and your mise en place photo is great. i'm afraid to say that i'm not *that* good ;)

Gretchen Noelle said...

I just love all the work & info you put into the posts you do. It is great to see your experiments and share in your fun!

Donna said...

I love the way you compared the different carrots. And your little bundt cakes are so lovely!
Donna

Cecilia said...

You had so many great ideas in your blog!!! I had no idea that carrots came in different colors; I'll have to see if my grocery store has some white carrots. Nicely done!

Liliana said...

I will have to look out for white carrots next time I am at the market!

Your photos are awesome! Great idea to used the mini bundt cake pans.

Sharon said...

The carrot pan was hilarous! Also I had never thought of using the other colored carrots for this. That would be really interesting.

Jaime said...

wow, great post! i never knew carrots came in so many different colors! you're so organized with your mise en place :)

Caca said...

very beautiful food presentation you have here.