I rather overdid it in the kitchen today: it started with experimenting with Durham scones I'd started last night, cooked for breakfast. Then I blithely thought I could bake 2 cakes plus some other stuff, and still have time for other chores. Right. The baking got done, but little else.
I did bake the cake o' the week, the Classic Carrot Cake with Dreamy Creamy White Chocolate Frosting. And the cake o' next week, English Gingerbread Cake. That's because my sister-in-law is having a Hanukkah gathering tomorrow evening, and I asked for opinions on which cake I should bake for the party. The consensus was the gingerbread, but I wasn't going to skip baking the carrot cake (I love carrot cake!). Carrot cake will also be on offer at the Hanukkah party.
I also baked gingerbread cookies today--these will become crust and decorations for the Ginger Cheesecake with Gingerbread Crust, which Marie baked before the group bake-along started. I'm taking the cheesecake to the office holiday party on Thursday, so will probably bake it Tuesday. I made the cookie dough last night, and rolled and baked the cookies today.
And the last bit of kitchen activity was carrot-parsnip "latkes" (riiiight), adapted from a Weight Watchers' recipe handed out at this week's meeting. Not bad, but not latkes. Insufficient oil for a real Hanukkah treat. :) The distractions of the latkes reduced my photography of the gingerbread, so illustrations will be a little sparse next week.
On to carrot cake. This is my sort of carrot cake recipe--no pineapple, raisins are optional (and I option them out), no other additions. The new twist to me is the addition of a tablespoon of cocoa powder, which for my inferior sense of taste does nothing but darken the color of the cake. I'd really rather have the cake a lighter color, if color was the primary reason, but I suspect better tastebuds than mine find that touch of cocoa adds something.
The cake mixing and baking went smoothly. The frosting preparation wasn't quite so smooth, and harking back to my attempt at Woody's Lemon Luxury Cake, I'm beginning to feel jinxed with white chocolate. My butter-cream cheese mixture was at cool room temperature, the melted white chocolate was not warm but still stirred easily, but when the chocolate was added to the butter mixture, I got solidifying white chocolate on the top of the Cuisinart knife blade (must have been slung there, as I put the white chcolate around the edge) and on the sides of the workbowl. I heated a towel and wrapped the workbowl to get the bits stuck to it to re-melt, tried not to touch the top of the knife so as to not have chips in my frosting. It's not like my kitchen is very cool, and I was working close to the oven, which had been on most of the day. Why does my white chocolate go solid when I try to combine it with something else? I suspect I've got technique problems with my mixing...defintely had 'em with the Lemon Luxury Cake, and maybe here too.
Despite the difficulty mixing up the frosting, it tasted great and was easy to use, not needing any time in the fridge before I could go ahead and frost the cake. I added the suggested chopped nuts to the top of the frosted cake--toasted pecans for me, not the walnuts Rose mentioned.
I like the finished product. The cake is nicely moist as a good carrot cake should be, and the cream cheese-white chocolate frosting is not too sweet. The pecans on top make for a nice crunch of contrasting textures. I don't have a standard carrot cake recipe, so this one may become the one I go to.