Classic Carrot Cake
Gesine Bullock-Prado's Caramel Cake + Carrot Cake
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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Rating:
4.0 (11 rated)

Both the cake and the frosting are incredibly simple recipes, which are easy enough for anyone to make for a special occasion. And, let's not forget, it's a pleasure to eat.

Special equipment: Pastry bag, medium-small plain round tip, grass piping tip, small plain round piping tip, offset spatula, frosting scraper, cardboard round and cake turntable.

Ingredients

  • Cream cheese frosting

    • 3 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 tablespoon Instant ClearJel
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Carrot cake

    • Unsalted butter or nonstick cooking spray, for pans
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1½ cups neutral oil, such as canola
    • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
    • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 3 cups peeled and grated carrot (from about 3 large carrots)
  • Marzipan rabbit

    • 8 ounces marzipan
    • Edible writing markers
    • Edible confectioners' glue
  • Assembly

    • Leaf green gel dye
    • Orange gel dye

Preparation

For the cream cheese frosting:

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, Instant ClearJel and salt. Set aside.

2. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix until smooth. Add the cream cheese and continue to mix on high speed until combined and smooth.

3. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl and add the powdered sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until just combined. Slowly add the cream and vanilla and when incorporated, mix on high speed until very smooth and light and fluffy.

For the carrot cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 325°F for a convection oven). Butter or spray the bottom of two 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment. Set aside.

2. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Whisk for 30 seconds until combined. Add the oil and vinegar and mix until the mixture resembles wet sand.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds and scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl between each addition.

4. Fold in the carrots and divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake just springs back when gently poked.

5. Once cooled, cut the cakes in half horizontally to make 4 layers of cake.

For the marzipan rabbit:

1. Break off a 1-ounce and a 1/2-ounce piece of marzipan and form each into an egg shape.

2. Take the smaller egg-shaped piece and gently etch a smile and a little notch for the nose on the narrower end of the egg shape. Using a pink marker, color the tip of the nose. Using a black marker, make two dots toward the fatter end of the egg, for eyes.

3. Take the larger egg-shaped piece and place it, wider side down, on your work surface.

4. Drive a toothpick (you may have to trim it a bit so it doesn't stick up past the bunny head once you attach it) down the middle of the egg (sorry, bunny), making sure there's a bit sticking up out of the egg. Center the head over the exposed toothpick and gently press the head down onto the body, using the toothpick as the anchor for the head.

5. Shape 2 more 1/2-ounce pieces of marzipan into 1-inch narrow ovals (the ears) and gently make an indentation in the middle of both, using the dull edge of a knife. Use a pink edible marker to slightly tint the inside of each ear. Snap a toothpick in half and drive each piece about 1/4 inch up the ear, leaving about 1/4 inch sticking out of the ear. Attach the ears to either side of the head, using the exposed portions of the toothpick.

6. Take 2 dime-size pieces of marzipan and shape into teardrops. Gently flatten the narrower ends, place a drop of edible glue on the flattened end, and press onto the side of the bunny body.

To assemble:

1. Set aside 1 cup of the cream cheese frosting in a small bowl and stir in 1-2 drops of green dye.

2. Set aside 1/2 cup of frosting in another small bowl and stir in 1 drop of orange dye.

3. Place a cake layer on a cardboard round and transfer to a cake turntable. Fit a pastry bag with a medium-small round tip and fill with the remaining undyed frosting. Pipe an even layer of cream cheese frosting onto the layer, top with the second cake layer, pressing gently to adhere the cake to the frosting, and pipe another even layer of cream cheese frosting. Top again with the third layer of cake, pressing gently to adhere, and pipe a final layer of cream cheese frosting on the cake layer. Gently press the fourth and final layer on top of the frosting. Place the cake in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to set.

4. Using a small offset spatula, smooth a crumb coat over the top and sides of the cake and return the cake to the freezer to set the frosting, 10-15 minutes.

5. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, using an offset spatula and a bench or frosting scraper, smoothing the top and sides of the cake. Return to the freezer to set the icing, 10-15 minutes.

6. Fit a pastry bag with the grass tip and fill with the green frosting. Pipe shallow rounds of grass up the sides of the cake, stopping halfway up.

7. Pipe a longer patch of grass in the top center of the cake, around 4 inches in diameter.

8. Fit a pastry bag with the medium-small piping tip and fill the bag with the orange frosting. Pipe carrots around the top perimeter of the cake and pipe a band of dots above the grass band along the sides of the cake.

9. Fit a pastry bag with the small round piping tip and fill with the remaining green frosting. Pipe carrot greens at the ends of each carrot.

10. Place the sweet little marzipan rabbit in the middle of your grass patch.

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