Carrots. Ginger. Oranges. All things that go together so well. So very very well.
I have to admit – orange is not my favourite flavour (it certainly isn’t the first citrus flavour I gravitate towards) - however, sometimes it just feels right.
This cake made it feel right. And boy am I happy I decided to trust my instincts.
The original recipe comes from (big surprise) the hummingbird bakery: cake days. And it was built with a specific person in mind: my beautiful and lovely step-mother, Marielle.
I am very fortunate. Not only do I have wonderful and loving parents – both of whom are ridiculously awesome people in their own right; but I have also ended up with another incredible person in my life in the form of Marielle.
Last Saturday was her birthday – and so, we gathered to celebrate her. It was a beautiful evening, filled with excellent company, good food and wine… and a knock your socks off birthday cake.
Seriously… this cake was THE BOMB (my father claims it’s the best cake I’ve ever made… Marielle loved the flavour, the two Anne’s (my sister and my step-sister) both loved the punch of the ginger and the frosting)… it was an immediate success.
I’ve come to realize that I’m not a timid baker – I like things full of flavour and that pop a real punch. I want things to taste exactly how I imagine them – if you’re going to add ginger to something – then don’t be afraid – use that ginger! If you’re going to use orange – then use the zest and juice… don’t wimp out. This cake is not about wimping out.
According to the hummingbird this cake is “a zingy variation on carrot cake”. I think it’s my new favourite twist and a new classic for my family.
The recipe will either make a 4 layer 8-inch round or a 3 layer 9-inch round. Either way… you’re goona get lots of cake. Which is a good thing… that means you’ll get a second piece – and if you’re too stuffed to enjoy it right away… this cake makes an excellent breakfast!
triple ginger carrot cake with orange cream cheese frosting
triple ginger carrot cake
1 lb carrots, peeled and grated
2 tbsp (a good knob) of fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp (or more), crystalized ginger, finely chopped
80 mL buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla (or orange extract)
350 mL vegetable oil
420 g brown sugar
500 g flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
80 g pecans, toasted and roughly chopped (you could also toast the pecans in maple syrup for an added touch)
Preheat your oven to 325 F. Spray your round baking pans with non stick spray and set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer (using your paddle attachment), mix together the carrots, fresh ginger, crystalized ginger, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, vegetable oil and sugar. Beat all the ingredients at medium speed until everything is combined (it will be VERY loose at this point).
While your wet ingredients are being mixed, combine your flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ground spices together.
You’ll want to slowly beat the dry ingredients into the batter – decrease the mixer speed to “stir” and, in three batches, add your flour mix. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl with each addition – it’s best to turn the stand mixer off when doing that :0)
Once the batter is nice and thick and well mixed, toss in your roughly chopped pecans. Incorporate them well into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between your cake pans (either for 3 layers or 4). Bake for about 25 – 32 minutes – this always depends on your oven. You want your toothpick to come out clean and the top of each cake to spring back when you gently press the top.
Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 – 20 minutes. Then remove from the pans and cool completely on the wire rack. This cake can be made the day ahead and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap (it’s a super moist cake).
When you are ready to frost the cake – make the buttercream.
orange cream cheese frosting
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
5 c. powdered sugar, sifted (or a little more if you want a thicker frosting)
zest of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 an orange (or the entire orange, depending on need)
1 package cream cheese, room temperature
In the bowl of your stand mixer, using your paddle attachment, beat together your powdered sugar, butter and orange zest. You want it to just combine, but it’ll still look more sugary than anything else. Add your entire cream cheese. Yep. All at once.
Increase the speed to medium and keep beating everything together. This is when you start to slowly add orange juice – a little at a time… it’ll loosen up your frosting and also add more flavour (less of that powdered sugar flavour). Keep beating until it’s nice and fluffy – it should be super smooth since you sifted the powdered first – about 7 minutes.
Then it’s time to frost your cake.
Since it’s a layer cake – obviously you need to use some frosting between the layers – I don’t recommend using too much frosting… you want the frosting to bind the layers not cause them to slip off one another. Once the cake is assembled, pile a bunch of your frosting on your top layer and push it flat and down the sides – gently smoothing the icing all around the outside and top of the cake (it’s easiest to spin the cake… this is why I heart the lazy susan from IKEA – it makes cake decorating way easier).
Now… grab your bag of flaked coconut and put small amounts in your hand and gently press it all over the sides of the cake. It’s messy. But so worth it. The coconut is DELISH (oh heck… next time I’m gonna toast the coconut before frosting my cake!) … and it makes the cake look extra pretty.
Don’t ya think?