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PF Farmers’ Market Challenge: Carrots!

carrot1The Fruits have decided to–virtually–kick each other around a little. This week, we’re launching a new, fortnightly feature: the Farmers’ Market Challenge. Every other week Joe (aka the “freshmaker”) will surprise Luke (aka “Mr. Perfect”) with a fresh ingredient from a local D.C. farmers’ market. The challenge will be for each of us to create a dish based on the ingredient while hewing to closely to our own particular m.o. First up are some gorgeous carrots from the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market this past Sunday. Luke’s post is below the fold; look for my carrot creation tomorrow.

I might have been just a little bummed, at first, when Joe handed me a bag (reusable canvas, natch) full of carrots fresh from the farmers’ market. But, after some moping around the kitchen, I realized that they actually posed a significant challenge–several, in fact. Carrots ARE kind of quotidian, first of all, and second of all, Mr. T haaates carrots. Loathes them. Pities the fool who likes them. Picks them out of things and pushes them as far away as he can without them falling off his plate and onto the table. So, to make carrots exciting and to make them palatable…

carrotcake2I seriously considered Amanda Hesser’s shredded carrot and parsnip saute, which is a lovely showcase for both vegetables that is easy and even his nibs finds edible. Upon remembering the triple layer carrot cake recipe in Dorie Greenspan‘s lovely book, however, I put aside the saute–what could be more exciting than three layers of cake, even if they DO have carrot in them? While I stuck closely to the original cake recipe, adding only a little freshly grated ginger, I did turn to Rose for the frosting. Her White Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream from The Cake Bible is QUITE the awesome thing; not a true buttercream in the sense that there’s no faffing about with egg whites and molten sugar, but it’s saved my behind several times when an attempted buttercream has died a curdly death in a too-hot kitchen. While it’s as quick and easy as a confectioners’ sugar frosting, it is SO much better. It’s lush, not too sweet, tangy from the cream cheese, and doesn’t get crusty like a confectioners’ sugar frosting or too fatty like a bad buttercream.

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake w/ White Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream
Dorie Greenspan & Rose Levy Beranbaum

For the Cake

2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
3 c carrots, grated (about 9)
2 tbs fresh ginger, finely grated and fibers removed
1 c walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 c coconut, shredded (sweetened or not)
1/c raisins
2 c sugar
1 c canola oil
4 eggs, large

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven. Butter and flour three 9″x2″ round cake pans. Make sure to get the sides well buttered and floured as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In large bowl, combine carrots, ginger, nuts, coconut, and raisins.

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the sugar and oil for 1-2 minutes till totally combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl halfway through. Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes total.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, beating only till dry ingredients are incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in carrot mixture by hand.  Divide mixture evenly between the three pans.

Bake 40-50 minutes, rotating top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. A cake tester inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean and the cake will just be starting to come away from the pan. Transfer pans to cooling racks and cool 5 minutes. Run a knife between the cakes and the pans and unmold. Cool completely on racks and then wrap in plastic if not using immediately.

For Frosting

9 oz white chocolate
12 oz cream cheese, softened
6 0z unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tbs lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Make sure the cream cheese and butter are softened! And, if the butter gets TOO soft–melty instead of slightly waxy–put in back in the refrigerator for 5 minutes or so.

Gently melt the white chocolate over a double boiler or very carefully in the microwave, zapping in short bursts and stirring frequently. Pull from double boiler of microwave before completely melted and stir to finish it off. Set aside to cool slightly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese till perfectly smooth, 3-5 minutes. (PERFECTLY. If there are any lumps left now, they will be impossible to get out of the completed frosting.) Scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on medium, gradually beat in the cooled chocolate. Scrape down the bowl and beater, getting down to the bottom of the bowl. Beat in the butter and lemon juice. Rebeat at room temperature to ensure smoothness before frosting.

Assembly

Per Dorie’s recipe, I also think this looks lovely with the edges of the cake exposed, so frosting is easy; just frost each tier with 1/3 of the frosting and chill 5 minutes before adding and frosting the next tier. If not serving immediately, wrap sides of cake in a band of plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Bring to cool room temperature before serving.

Notes & Variations
Rose recommends Tobler Narcisse. But I have a hard time finding it and use the 1 lb Callebaut bricks carried by WF instead. For $15, it had better be just as good… *argh*

Beranbaum, Rose Levy. The Cake Bible. (New York: William Morrow Cookbooks) 1988.

Greenspan, Dorie. Baking: From My Home to Yours. (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) 2006.

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