Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting topped with Wild Blackberries
You can expect blackberries to be a common theme in our posts for a while. A couple weeks ago I walked down to the side of the creek by our house where we have several wild blackberry bushes growing. Most of the berries were still green, but I did find 5 glistening purple ones and quickly devoured all of them. You know you would have done the same.
Well last week Ryo and I went out again in hopes of finding something to garnish our plain carrot cake with and found quite a few more than 5. I won't elaborate too much about the berries because I foresee many more days of picking them by the basket and making cobblers and kuchen and maybe even a pudding.
I suppose the main thing to talk about is the carrot cake. In my lifetime I've run into quite a few people who are not the biggest carrot cake fans, including Ryo. I can't really understand why, but I guess it could have something to do with the word "carrot" and an assumption of healthiness due to the mention of a vegetable. That's where I think carrot cake gets a little deceptive. In the UC Berkeley dining commons they even went as far as calling it "Healthy Harvest Cake." As if people already don't have enough trouble with the freshmen 15 without these misleading titles.
When I dug out our old carrot cake recipe that we've used most of our lives, I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't the cup and a half of oil it demanded. I was a little shocked by this and also kind of disgusted by the state of the recipe scrawled out on an old index card that was more than a little worse for wear (I really think we should digitalize our disorganized recipe drawer at some point). Well, that's when I decided it was time to try to find someone else's version.
After looking for 2 seconds online, I found one billion other recipes. Eventually I got a little overwhelmed and just decided to pull out our Cooking Light book. The picture of "Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting" looked good and the 1/3 cup of oil was much more appealing.
I called Ryo over and we whipped it up in not too much time, picked (and ate) some blackberries while we waited for it to cool, slathered on the cream cheese frosting, and topped it with a few of our finest, juiciest berries. It was a hit later that night (even with Ryo) when we celebrated our dad's birthday and we've been having leftovers for the last couple of nights.
Last comment: don't diss healthier recipes because if you spend a little time looking for a good one, more often than not they'll taste just as, if not more delicious than your alternative. Here's Cooking Light's recipe. We served ours with some plain frozen yogurt from Trader Joe's along with a few more berries. I'd recommend this combination.
Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting (from Cooking Light)
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
2 cups finely shredded carrot
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese, chilled
1/4 cup butter or stick margarine, softened
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 375. Coat 2 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and dust with flour. Lightly spoon 2 1/4 cups flour into measuring cups, level and combine with baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and nutmeg. Stir well with a whisk.
Beat sugar, brown sugar, applesauce, oil, yogurt, vanilla, egg whites, and egg at medium speed of a mixer. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Then stir in carrot.
Pour batter into pans, tapping to remove air bubbles. Bake for 25 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes on wire racks, remove from pans, and cool completely. Put one layer on a plate, spread with 3/4 of cream cheese frosting. Top with other layer and spread remaining frosting over top and sides. Store in the fridge.
For frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, lemon, and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add sugar to mixture and beat at a low speed just until blended.
*We didn't use a mixer so I guess that part of the recipe isn't so important. We also made several other errors and it still turned out fine, so I'd say this recipe is fairly foolproof.