Monday, May 19, 2008

Birthday Carrot Cake

This week was Tim's birthday. Happy Birthday, sweetie!

Fun fact for the day: When it's your birthday in Deutschland, YOU'RE expected to bring in a cake or treats for all your coworkers. What non-sense is this, you ask? I agree. However, this was the custom in Japan too. Hands down, I prefer the US style of being pampered on your birthday - someone else needs to have the duty of getting you a cake. However, I suppose it does dispose of the uncomfortable co-worker money collection to round up funds for someone's birthday card + cake. And the same person almost always gets shackled with buying everyone's cakes.

Which would you prefer: Everyone responsible for their own birthday cake? Or, coworkers buying each other cakes?

Back to T's birthday... It gave me a good excuse to make a recipe I'd been saving and toting around with us for the last 3 years! Yes, I do this a lot. I have recipes in my folder that look good, so I save, but require the right timing (and motivation). Not everything sounds good all the time, or the ingredients might not be in season, or maybe it's a stew and you are mid-summer, etc. Sometimes the stars don't align to make that particular recipe for a couple years.

Enter, stage left, my cooking light carrot cake recipe.

Not only did this cake look ridiculously good in my May 2005 magazine, making you want to lick the page, but my friend had made it and verified that it was worth keeping. Fast forward to 2008, and T's birthday, and a lack of american baking tools (food coloring, semi-sweet or milk chocolate for baking, corn syrup... and my list goes on, are not readily available here), and we had the perfect timing for a simple, delicious carrot cake birthday!

Since it would be for T's work, I made them into cupcakes. And frankly, I just like cupcakes.

Mmm, cupcakes!

BUT, then I made it a second time on Saturday night, for an impromptu friends dinner and made it sheet cake style. So we had carrot cake twice this week. Yep, we - are - sooo - lucky.

The sheet cake pre-frosting

We both preferred the cupcake version, simply due to frosting. The cupcakes can't hold too much frosting, or it will drip off. There was a nice layer, but nothing compared to the thick layer on the sheet cake. The small pieces of sheet cake I cut, gave us a serious sugar punch in the gut! If you make the sheet cake version (which I preferred for ease, and was very portable for our dinner party), I recommend using only 3/4 of the frosting. But hey, if you are a sugar hound, then go for it.

Carrot Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
from Cooking Light

Cooking spray
9 tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 cups finely shredded carrot

1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 tablespoon orange sugar sprinkles (I didn't have these, as I cant find sprinkles or cake deco in Germany - ah!)

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare cake, coat a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray; line bottom of pan with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray; set aside. (skip this step if you are making cupcakes)

Place 9 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 5 minutes or until well blended. Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until pale and fluffy. Beat in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Stir in carrot.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Sharply tap pan once on counter to remove air bubbles.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Carefully peel off wax paper; cool completely on wire rack.

To prepare frosting, place the cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating at low speed until smooth (do not overbeat). Stir in the remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Spread frosting over top of cake. Garnish with sprinkles. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator (no! see note below). Yields 16 servings.

CALORIES 309(30% from fat); FAT 10.3g (sat 5g,mono 4.1g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 4.5g; CHOLESTEROL 52mg; CALCIUM 49mg; SODIUM 358mg; FIBER 0.9g; IRON 1.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 50.2g

Also, I feel silly writing this, but in the off chance (not likely), anyone else in the world might think the same thing... I'd like to save you a cake faux-pas. For some odd reason, I was thinking we should refrigerate the leftover carrot cake due to the frosting (what, the butter will go bad?! Bah! Silly, silly me). Even the recipe tells you to do this. Mistake! One overnight in the fridge created a dense, cold cake. While it was still edible and OK, gone was the light, fluffy deliciousness. Leave your cake out in an airtight container, or cover with saran wrap. If you are worried about it, then just be sure to eat it all up on the first night. Yum.

Guten appetit!


JaimeM said...

Yumm! Carrot cake is a favorite around here. I will have to try out this recipe!
I have to say bringing your own cake for your birthday seems odd. I much prefer being surprised! :)

jamie said...

I kinda like the idea of bringing treats in to celebrate your own birthday. (but i like baking, too.) Speaking of cupcakes, I made these this weekend. Put them on your list... they're exquisite!

Chria said...

I, too, like the idea of providing your own deal for your birthday. That way you get to bring exactly what you want, and it spreads the burden around. Can you tell I'm the de facto event coordinator in my office and bitter about it?

PerryBlog said...

Happy Happy to Tim!

I think your own treats on your own b-day is a great idea. That way if you want a big to-do, so be it - Bring your balloons and parade. But if not, your day can pass in anonymity. Can you tell I'm the HR person who is sick of whiny little, uh, shall I say, employees, who complain about either not being "recognized" enough or being embarrassed by being publicly acknowledged.

I hope none of my co-workers happen to read your blog or the comments...

laura said...

Dont worry kim, I have very few readers - as in 4 (ok- maybe 5). :)

Jamie- Yum! I'm saving that recipe for another friends bday this summer. They look reallly good.