A blog by ordinary people about living an extraordinary life

Practice makes perfect

Tomorrow the calendar flips over to April, and that means that Easter is right around the corner.  Since Meghan and I have been put in charge of holiday desserts, it is time to figure out if I can put together a carrot cake.  Thankfully, my new Food Network magazine is here, and it has a carrot cake recipe.  Since practice makes perfect, tonight is dry run #1 (Note: I am not against making a dessert for a holiday as my first attempt, and I must admit, most have been highly successful)

Ingredients for the cakes:

  • 3/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of pecans (plus another 1/2 a cup to decorate the cake)
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest (zest of about 1 lemon)
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons of orange marmalade (12oz jar will be just enough for this recipe)
  • 3 cups of shredded carrots (turns out, a 10oz bag is about 3 cups, who knew.  I bought 3 bags, so at least I have enough for next weekend)

Gather up your ingredients


To bring out some great flavor in the pecans, put them on a baking sheet and bake for 5-10 minutes at 350F.  Allow to cool, then using a food processors pulse until they are finely chopped.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: chopped pecans, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and sugar.  Mix until combined.

In another bowl combine the wet ingredients: oil, eggs, lemon zest, orange marmalade.  Whisk to combine.  Fold in the carrots.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.

Brush 3 9″ cake pans with vegetable oil.  Divide the batter between the 3 pans.  Cook 2 pans on the top rack and one the lower rack for 12 minutes.  Switch the pans and bake another 12 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  Allow the cakes to cool (I wait about 3 hours before frosting the cakes).

Ingredients for the frosting:

  • 3 8oz packages of cream cheese (I used the Neufchatel cream cheese, which has 1/3 less fat than normal cream cheese)
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter
  • 3 cups of 10x sugar
  • punch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (the juice of 1/2 a lemon)

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter (both need to be at room temperature to ensure that they can be combined easily).  Add 1/2 the sugar and mix.  Add the other half of the sugar, salt, vanilla extract and lemon juice.  Beat on low speed to combine, scrapping down the bowl a couple of times.

Now to put the cake together!

Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper and place around the edge of a cake pedestal.  In the middle of the pedestal place a small dollop of frosting.  Place the first layer of the cake.  Cover the cake with a thin layer of marmalade, then cover with frosting. Repeat with the second layer of cake.  Add the top layer of cake and put a thin layer of frosting.  Place the cake in the fridge to allow the frosting to set (since this was take one, we only waited about 5 minutes.  But for the real run, we will wait at least 30 minutes).  Add a second layer of frosting on the top of the cake, as well as frosting the sides of the cake.  Top the cake with about 1/2 a cup of chopped pecans.


Now it is time to taste the cake.



4 comments on “Practice makes perfect

  1. emmycooks
    March 31, 2012

    I love when I “have” to make a “practice” cake. I am going to make one this weekend, in fact–making it for Easter in advance of an auction I will be making it for. 🙂

  2. Karen
    March 31, 2012

    If this is your cake #l , I can’t wait to see you final result. This looks and sounds delicious.

  3. trialsinfood
    April 1, 2012

    It’s always a good sign when the plate is clean! 🙂

  4. meg
    April 1, 2012

    The cake was really good!

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This entry was posted on March 31, 2012 by in Peter Waterman's posts, Recipes and tagged , , , , , .
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