maple-cardamom carrot cake.

we ate it all! except for a small piece my sister-in-law took home. this image is via chatelaine

i have a soft spot for cardamom. it makes everything taste warmer and spicier and more delicious. or at least, everything that is meant to taste warm and spicy and delicious in the first place.

my sister-in-law, the older one, requested carrot cake for her birthday this year. i made one last year, but truth be told, i couldn’t remember which recipe i used. i hummed and hawed and she made mention of the fact that a spice cake would do quite well, also. this is a happy medium. our fabulous landlord and his partner brought over a slice wedge of this cake the week before i made it. it was super moist, but the icing, a maple butter icing, didn’t pack the punch of the cream cheese frosting that i’m so used to.

this recipe is a cross between the one from a 1999 copy of bon appetit and the most recent issue of LCBO’s food and drink magazine.

for those of you who don’t slice your cakes horizontally (to make 4 layers, instead of two): it’s well worth it. think of it as increasing the cake-to-icing ratio without having gobs of ooey, gooey icing. and it makes for a taller cake without leftovers.

maple-cardamom carrot cake

4 cups grated carrots
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup milk

preheat oven to 350°F.
line two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with parchment paper
whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom in medium bowl to blend. set aside.
beat sugar and butter in separate bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium.
reduce speed to low and beat in eggs, and the vanilla.
add about 1/3 the flour mixture, beating until just mixed, followed by the maple syrup. beat in 1/2 of the remaining flour, followed by the milk and then the remainder of the flour.
stir in carrots.
divide batter between prepared pans.
bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. turn out onto racks. peel off parchment paper; cool cakes completely.

maple cream cheese frosting
8 ounces (225g) cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy.
add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until well blended.
beat in maple syrup and vanilla.
chill until just firm enough to spread, 30 minutes.

once your cakes are cool, slice them horizontally in half.
place top half of one cake, dome side down, on cake plate.
thinly spread with icing, leaving a narrow border.
lay bottom of that cake, cut-side down on top.
thinly spread with icing, leaving a narrow border.
repeat the process with the second cake, but starting with the bottom half, then icing, then top half, dome side up.
ice the sides of the cake and then the top.
refrigerate until ready to serve.


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