I’d always taken pride in being able to bake without having to have a stand or hand mixer help with the work – until I began doing it more regularly for fun and family birthdays. Those special occasions called for pretty decorations and properly whipped frosting. That was when I started to encounter a few not-so-ideally-presented cakes.
The first was when I attempted a rainbow cake for my younger sister’s 18th Birthday last year, which happens to fall on Christmas Eve so we’d always have our relatives over for a double celebration. A rainbow cake is typically an angel food cake base, layered and dyed in the colours of the rainbow; and having decided to make the cream cheese frosting by hand (well I didn’t really have much of a choice because I didn’t have a stand/hand mixer then)- plus my mad rush back and forth between home and the supermarket- due to a lack of proper time management – to prepare the cake before the party, I ended up using fairly cold butter – which gave me a horrible buttery-studded lump of cream cheese-ish frosting that in no way was permitted to be smeared all over the cake. Everything worked out in the end, though I wouldn’t say I was extremely proud of it because my frosting turned out more buttery than light and creamy. But all in all, lesson learned about engaging the use of proper baking equipment especially when it comes to frosting.
Since I had resolved to using the handy stand mixer (available to me this time thanks to my mother-in-law’s well-equipped kitchen), the next thing I needed to gain more clarity on was in finding out which beater to use for the frosting.
So there are 3 types of attachments that come with a standard stand mixer: the dough hook, wire whisk & paddle attachment. The dough hook is used to mix and knead dough for breads, coffee cakes, rolls, buns, cookie, pizza and pasta dough. The wire whisk is used to incorporate air into liquid mixtures via whipping textures like egg whites for meringue. And the paddle attachment is used for making frosting – good for buttercream & cream cheese frosting. *Note: with frosting, start with paddle attachment to break down the butter. May switch to the wire whisk to produce fluffier frosting after butter has been creamed. Ensure the frosting is not too thick so as not to damage whisk. Also be careful not to use the whisk with buttercream frosting as it creates to much air and is not good for smoothing on cakes. Hand-held mixers work well for frosting too.
Speaking of frosting, being the ever-guilty eater I am – frowning over bacon grease and the thought of consuming whipped cream on sundaes – I never thought that I’d think it, but I did. Despite the thick slather of cream cheese frosting all over the top and oozing down the sides of the carrot cake, I found myself wishing there was more.
Oh how I was pleasantly surprised after taking a bite, to discover how reminiscent it was of my favourite Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Homestyle Carrot Cake. Woo hoo! 😀 I decided then and there that I was gonna leave a few slices out on the dining table to indulge over the next couple of days, and freeze the rest so they remain nice and moist the next time they’re defrosted.
Carrot cake can be frozen in the fridge for up to 2 months. Avoid freezing after cake has been left out overnight, as it will affect its texture after thawing out. Best to freeze within a few hours after it has cooled. Before freezing completely, ensure frosting has hardened, then wrap in cling film followed by aluminium foil and store in freezer. When ready to eat again, thaw out in fridge overnight so that frosting can soften a lil more.
Recipe adapted from here:
1 cup light brown sugar, packed (or dark brown sugar)
¾ cup canola oil
¼ cup greek yogurt (or regular yogurt- plain or vanilla)
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp salt
2 cups very finely grated carrots (I used about 4 medium ones)
½ cup walnut pieces + ¼ cup raisins (I used a small box of sultanas & apricot)
*try pecans next time. the walnuts left a slight bitter taste.
8 oz (226g / 1 cup) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2-2½ cups icing sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 176.6°C. Line a 9 or 10inch springform pan with aluminium foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Make the Carrot Cake: In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar and oil about 3 mins or until well combined. Beat in yoghurt until fully combined. Mixture should resemble the texture of caramel. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Mix in vanilla. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl: combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. With a spatula, manually fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined – do not overmix. Fold in the shredded carrots, walnut pieces and raisins. Pour into prepared springform pan.
4. Bake cake for 32-38 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. To prevent cake drying out, take care not to overbake. Check the cake at 30 minutes, then every 2 minutes thereafter. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.
5. Make the Frosting: Beat the softened cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until soft, creamy, and combined thoroughly. Add 2 cups of icing sugar and beat until thick and combined. Add heavy cream and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 2 more minutes. Add more powdered sugar until desired thickness is reached. Add a pinch of salt to cut the sweetness.