Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Easy Carrot Cake

If I had to describe my second year of dental school in one word, it would be exhausting.  Emotionally, physically, and most of all mentally.  I seriously don't know if my brain can handle anymore info, but I have no choice but to keep cramming.  Cram might be the second word I'd choose.  I've been doing quite a lot of that this quarter!  With all of this hard work, I need something to look forward to, and that something is baking!  I spent the entire weekend at the library thinking more about what cake I wanted to bake than I did studying for my ortho exam.

My grandma (the master baker) made this carrot cake last week and my mom said it was one of the best cakes she has ever tasted; and being the daughter of a cake decorator, she has tasted many a cake!  I decided I would make it for an "estrogen party" I attended last night.  The name goes without saying: all girls and lots of food.  A perfect Monday evening if I do say so myself!


For the cake:
Shortening, for greasing the pans
Flour, for dusting the pans
1 package (18.25 oz) plain white cake mix
1 package (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, with juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
4 large eggs
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting:
4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick salted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I left this out because the cake was already pretty "spice-filled")

Preheat the oven to 350 degreed.  Grease and flour two round 9-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, crushed pineapple, vegetable oil, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and eggs.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for about 2 minutes.  Add the carrots (make sure they are finely chopped, I shredded mine in a food processor), coconut, and walnuts and stir until well combined.

Pour equal amounts into each pan and bake for 28-30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before removing from the pans and allowing to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

While the cakes cool, combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in a medium sized bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for about 30 seconds.  Scrap down the sides of the bowl and continue to beat until mixture is fluffy.  Add the confectioners' sugar in half cup increments, then add the cinnamon.  Continue to beat on high until frosting is light and fluffy.  If frosting is too thin, you can add up to a 1/2 cup  more confectioners' sugar.