Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Carrot Cake with the Best Cream Cheese Frosting Ever

Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch as our family of 6 eats on $6/day.

With some updated pictures.

(Here's the old pic for old time's sake.)

Let's get one thing straight. Carrot cake is not a health food. But it is one of those foods you can tell yourself is healthier. Especially if you sub out a cup of the white flour for a cup of the wheat flour and serve it as muffins at a brunch.

Now, telling yourself something is healthy when it is only marginally healthier is certainly not the best habit. It probably won't help your waistline at all or aid in any of your New Year's resolutions (huh, what are those, it's, like, March, right?). But every once in a while, it is kind of fun. So while I won't encourage you to eat this for breakfast (I'm quite sure I never have), it's plenty fun to eat for dessert. So if a three-layer cake on a Tuesday night just seems a little wrong to you, just think Vitamin A; and sub out a cup of the white flour for the wheat if you must (which, incidentally, gives it a bit of earthiness I rather enjoy--all undeserved justifications aside).

The other nice thing about carrot cake, and yet another reason you can eat it on a Tuesday night if you darned well please is that, aside from the carrot shredding, it's an absolute breeze to put together (you don't even need to break out the beaters, just a bowl and a spoon). I shred my carrots in the food processor, which makes it a breeze for me all around.

And if you're still not convinced, let me say this: I know the best cream cheese frosting recipe ever. So there. Make it.

Carrot Cake
adapted from Blue Ribbon Recipes
Serves: many (probably about 30)
Prep time: 10 minutes (with food processor)
Cook time: 25 minutes
Cost: $1.90 (not bad for 3 layers)
(carrots: .75, oil: .24, sugar: .32, eggs: .40, flour: .18, other stuff: .01)

1 1/2 C oil
2 C sugar
4 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 C grated carrots (just a bit shy of 1 lb)

Heat oven to 325. Grease three 9-inch pans and put wax paper on the bottoms, then grease again.

Mix oil and sugar. Mix in eggs and vanilla.

Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Mix it into the creamed mixture. Add the carrots, a bit at a time so as to avoid getting a huge clump of them somewhere (your kids will never go for that).

Pour batter evenly into the cake pans. The batter will be shallow. I suppose you could probably get it into two pans (though I can't 100% guarantee that), but I like to have the extra frosting. I guess I'm a bit of a frosting lush. Don't tell, okay.

Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a fork comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pans and then turn out on a rack (or some parchment paper or waxed paper on your counter top if you don't have a rack). Let cool completely and then frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting
from The New Best Recipe Cookbook (with an orange cream cheese adaptation from me)
enough for 3 layers
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cost: 3.10
(cream cheese: 2.20, sugar: .40, butter: .70)

2 packages of cream cheese (16 oz. total), softened
10 Tbsp butter, softened
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat together cream cheese, butter, and sour cream. Add vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar.

An option for Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:

Add the zest from one small orange and 2-3 Tbsp of orange juice to make orange cream cheese frosting.


P.S. I didn't eat it for breakfast (I swear; no crosses count). I took it to my church party.

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