Carrot with Pineapple Layer Cake
Recipe by Sarah Phillips © 2006 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Variations: Apple Cinnamon Crumble Cake; Fresh Apple Cinnamon Layer Cake; Frosted Fresh Cherry Layer Cake; Frosted Pineapple Layer Cake
Photo by sugarpie, Premium Member © Sarah Phillips
The Carrot with Pineapple Layer Cake is a moist cake that's chock-full of carrots. It also offers a solution to help frustrated bakers who want to incorporate fresh fruit in their butter cakes. Many have asked for a recipe over the years on my Forum on CraftyBaking.com (formerly baking911.com). I have explained to home bakers that you can't take any butter cake recipe and simply add fresh fruit to the batter; that it is hit or miss whether you have success or failure. Its inclusion adds additional sugar, juice and sometimes pectin and/or acidity, sometimes causing the cake to dip in the middle, not bake all the way through or become rubbery. It takes a specially formulated recipe and a delicate folding method to mix in the fresh carrots and pineapple at the end, resulting in a luscious and moist cake.
CAKE RECIPE HELP
For cake baking, a heavy, dull metal pan works the best. Darker, nonstick or heavy, ovenproof glass pans conduct the oven'’s heat more and darken and toughen the cake's crust. To compensate, lower the oven's temperature by 25 degrees F
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into dry measuring cup and level to top
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, optional
1 cup whole or 2% milk, can be cold from refrigerator; measure in liquid measuring cup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, can be cold from the refrigerator
1 1/3 cups sugar or superfine sugar or 2/3 cup sugar and 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs, can be cold from refrigerator
1 heaping cup grated peeled carrots; grate with the large holes of a box grater and then measure
1/2 heaping cup crushed unsweetened (or sweetened) pineapple, well drained; reserve juice for frosting
NOTES: It’s best to use an electric stand mixer for this cake because it is more powerful than a hand-held electric one. Extra horsepower is needed due to the large amounts of ingredients that it has to mix. I use a 325 watt KitchenAid Mixer when making this recipe.
1. Position oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease two 8- or 9- x 2- inch pans. You may also line the greased pans with greased parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and ginger. Set aside.
Add the vanilla extract to the measured milk and combine. Set aside.
SARAH SAYS: Be sure your baking powder and/or baking soda (and salt) are evenly distributed throughout the flour so that the cake doesn't develop uneven air holes as it bakes, which can cause it to crack or fall apart. Mix them together with a large mixing spoon so they all get distributed. (A fork allows the dry ingredients to slip through the tines of the fork causing uneven mixing). Make sure you reach down to the bottom of the bowl.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on low speed with a paddle attachment until softened. Add the granulated sugar in a steady stream at the side of the bowl until combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes until creamy, light in color and fluffy. During beating, stop the mixer and scrape the bowl often.
4. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time and beat 20 seconds after each addition until combined. Beat the mixture for one minute on medium until it is smooth and fluffy. Stop the mixer during mixing and scrape the bowl often.
5. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 2 equal portions, alternating with the milk mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix after each addition until JUST combined.
With the last addition of flour, mix until almost incorporated. Stop the mixer and unclamp the mixer bowl. Add the grated carrots and pineapple and FOLD with a large rubber spatula until JUST combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Scrape the bowl and divide the batter evenly into the greased pans. Lightly smooth the tops.
SARAH SAYS: If you overmix a recipe containing wheat flour, when moistened, it produces too much gluten. Too much gluten toughens and dries a cake when baked. It also causes the cake to develop a peak in the middle and deep cracks on the top as well. If this happens, cut the cake into small, bite-size pieces and frost each one. Place on a serving platter and serve anyway – no one will know!
6. Bake the layers for 40 - 45 minutes. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick in the middle of each cake layer and remove. It should have a few moist crumbs attached, but not batter. Lightly touch of the tops of each cake with a cupped hand until the top feels firm and gives slightly. The cake shrinks a little from the sides of the pan. It should also smell done.
SARAH SAYS: Shallow cracks will develop in the top of the cake layers during baking. This is normal. Upon cooling, the cake’'s top will settle down and most of the cracks will seem to disappear. The ones that are left will be trimmed anyway before frosting and won’'t show.
Take the cake layers immediately from the oven to a wire cake rack and let them sit for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula or sharp knife. Invert onto wire cake rack and place upright with the support of another wire cake rack to cool completely.
SARAH SAYS: A cake layer is fragile when hot when taken right from the oven and will crack easily and fall apart if unmolded too soon from its pan. Letting it sit for 10 minutes in its pan allows it to cool a bit before unmolding, preventing this from happening. If your cooling rack has short legs and sits close to the countertop, condensation easily forms between the two making the underside of the cake wet. So, prop up your cooling rack by placing a same height glass under each corner. Then air can easily circulate around the cake to cool it and no condensation will form.
FROST AND SERVE
When cake layers have cooled, fill with the Easy Pineapple or Any Flavor Pastry Cream Filling and frost with the Pineapple Buttercream Frosting, if desired.
The cake is a good keeper and stays moist from the pineapple. It can be stored, unfilled and unfrosted in the refrigerator for about 3 days, wrapped individually with plastic wrap and then in foil; cakes with fruit store best this way because they tend to get moldy when stored at room temperature. The unfrosted layers can be frozen for about 2 months, wrapped the same way. The Easy Pastry Cream does not freeze well.
The frosted and filled cake should be stored in the refrigerator because of the pastry cream. The Pineapple Buttercream does not need refrigeration.
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