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Three Spice Carrot Cake & Cream Cheese Icing

Whitney Ott

Three-Spice-Carrot-Cake-Vert.jpg
Makes one 10-inch round layer cake, 16 servings

Cake
Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter for greasing cake pans
3 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda (see notes)
1 tablespoon fresh coarsely ground black peppercorns
2 teaspoons clove powder
2 tablespoons green cardamom powder
2 cups white granulated sugar
9 large eggs
1 ¾ cups canola oil
6 carrots, peeled and grated (3 cups)

Preparation
Heat the oven to 350°F degrees. Grease two 10-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, and grease the paper and sides of the pans. Dust the paper and sides with flour, tapping out any excess.

In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together, then mix in the pepper, clove, and cardamom. Set aside.

In an electric mixer on medium speed, whip the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With mixer running, add the oil slowly to maintain the emulsion.

Add the dry ingredients to the sugar, egg, and oil mixture, and mix on medium speed for another 3 minutes. Add the carrots and mix for another 2 minutes.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans, dividing evenly between the two. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted into the centers of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pans on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cakes to loosen, then turn them out onto a rack and let them cool completely. Make the Cream Cheese Icing (recipe below).


Cream Cheese Icing
Ingredients
1 ½ pounds (2 cups) cream cheese, at room temperature
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 ½ cups powdered confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh coarsely ground black peppercorns
1 tablespoon green cardamom powder
1 teaspoon clove powder

Preparation
In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, pepper, cardamom, and clove while beating at low speed until blended for another 3 to 4 minutes.

Frost the cakes: Using a serrated knife, trim the rounded tops of both cakes. (Gobble up all the scraps!) Place one trimmed cake, cut-side up, on a serving platter. Spread 1 ½ cups of the frosting over the cake. Top with second trimmed cake, cut-side down. Spread 1 ½ cups frosting over cake. Spread the remaining cream cheese icing over the sides. Refrigerate the cake 1 hour before serving.

Notes: Baking powder loses its freshness when exposed to humidity. Write down the date on a newly opened can to help keep track of hold old the powder is. To check for freshness, mix 2 teaspoons of baking powder in very hot water: it should fizz and pop right away. If it doesn’t, discard the remainder and pick up a fresh can. Your baked goods will thank you, especially this cake, which needs a lot of oomph to raise the batter filled with carrots.

For checking if the cake is done, if I can’t lay my hands on a wooden skewer, I’ll use a piece of spaghetti to test for doneness.

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