If you get busy with all the holidays at this time of year, raise your hand![flurry of movement as your collective, virtual hands go up]
Yeah, me too.
Really, who doesn’t? But you’ve still gotta eat.
And no Rosh Hashanah spread would be complete without a dessert (or two!). Sliced apples and honey are traditional in these parts, and there’s nothing wrong with that; they’re about as simple as it gets. But, if you’re looking for an actual dessert, I’ve got you covered.
Here’s the deal: this cake tastes better after a night in the fridge. It actually improves when you make it ahead of time and leave it alone. So, save yourself some stress on the big day by making this ahead of time. You can make and refrigerate it up to two days in advance, frosted or unfrosted, or longer if you freeze it (but if you’re going to do that, wait to frost it until after it’s thawed).
Is it a little fussier than usual? Yes. Is this one of the most important holidays of the year? Uh-huh. I rest my case: totally worth the extra twelve minutes you’ll spend on this cake than other desserts — I’m guessing eight minutes hand-grating the carrots and four minutes lining, buttering, and flouring your cake pans). And, by the way, please give hand-grating a try (I know, I know, I know — your food processor is fast AND amazing…) — the texture will be finer if you do it by hand. (But do whatever you have to to get this cake made!) Whichever method you choose, remember to squeeze excess water out with a towel or in mesh colander.
The crumb is moist from the pineapple, flavorful from the blend of spices, and honestly, who doesn’t wish they had a whole bowl of cream cheese frosting? By the way, did you know, carrots are a traditional Rosh Hashanah food? They are a symbol of our hope that we increase our good deeds in the coming year (it comes from the Yiddish word “meren,” meaning “carrots” and “to increase,” but it doesn’t hurt that they’re sweet anyway).
Best Year Yet Carrot Cake
2 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 C sugar
1 1/4 C canola oil
4 large eggs
3 C grated, peeled carrots
1 1/2 C coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 C raisins
1/2 C crushed pineapple, drained
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper; butter that as well. Coat with flour, tapping out the excess. (You’ll thank me, I promise.)
- Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in medium bowl to blend.
- In a separate, large bowl, whisk sugar and oil in until well blended.
- Whisk eggs into sugar-oil mixture one at a time.
- Add flour mixture and stir until blended. If you’re using a stand mixer, now is a good time to swap out your whisk attachment for a paddle because it gets pretty thick.
- Stir in raisins, pineapple, walnuts, and carrots one at a time.
- Divide batter between the two cake pans.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
- Let cool in pans for 10-15 minutes, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.
Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
One (8 oz) package cream cheese or neufchatel, softened
1 stick (1/2 C)(1/4 C) unsalted butter, room temperature
5-6 C confectioners’ sugar
1/4-1/2 C honey
- Using a mixer (stand mixer would be best), beat cream cheese, butter, and honey on medium.
- Add sugar 1/4 C at a time until scraping the sides down as necessary.
- Chill the frosting for 10 to 20 minutes, until it has set up enough to spread smoothly.
- To assemble a carrot layer cake, frost the top of one cake, place the other cake on top. Frost the sides and top, swirling decoratively. Drizzle honey and top with remaining toasted walnuts. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes to set up frosting.
Tip: Tint leftover frosting to use it for decorating!
Next week: A ridiculously easy rustic tart recipe for using all those apples, just in time for your new year celebrations!