Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Tale of Two Birthday Cakes

There were two birthday celebrations for a certain little pastry's 3rd birthday (3rd birthday!!!! *head spins*), one on the day itself, the other for the party a week and a half later. Both were delicious freaking cakes, both sort of essential recipes, so I thought I'd share the eevil. Both are from, and I substituted yoghurt for almost all the oil in both and they came out great.

(Both cakes poorly and inadequately photographed due to frazzledom and forgetfulness. Me, forgetting to halt everything to take pictures? Weird.)

First, basic chocolate cake, a super easy (one bowl), relatively non-eevil (frosting notwithstanding) option that was de-freaking-licious. This is now my go-to chocolate cake. 

(The little mushrooms! Got the candles at that adorable little cupcake shop on Primrose Hill in London; the others were recently brought back to me from Belgium by my darling best friend.)

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two nine inch round pans.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Batter will be thin. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

I used lowfat strawberry yoghurt instead of oil (a splash of oil to top off the measuring cup) and you'd never have known it. Trying to recall where I got the frosting recipe, because it was amazingly good and perfect consistency. Thinking, thinking. It's after midnight. This will have to wait.


Second, carrot cake. Oh lordy this was so good, and also relatively un-eevil. I'd never made carrot cake before, but oh, I will again. And probably pretty soon. Oh, bad photo, you make me sad. This cake was so cute I kept opening the refrigerator to look at it. Those meringues are from Trader Joe's.


  • 6 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts


  1. In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes, then stir in raisins.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, stir into the wet mixture until absorbed. Finally stir in the carrot mixture and the walnuts. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan. When completely cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting.

I heeded these two notations in comments:

Before I decided to try this cake I read every single review, paying careful attention to those who did not like the cake very much. Though the overwhelming majority, of which I am now a part, liked this cake very much I understand that you learn a lot more about something by learning what people did not like about it. So, after having made the cake I have a few suggestions for those who didn’t like the cake. Most of the complaints where that the cake was too heavy or that it was too moist or “pudding like” A solution to this might be to strain the carrots and pineapple more before adding them in to the cake batter. I know the recipe doesn’t specify but I strained the carrots and the pineapple until they where almost dry and added about 2 – 3 tablespoons of the strained liquid back in. I also hydrated the raisins a bit by letting them sit in a cup of warm water while the carrots sat in the brown sugar. Also I made 3 - 8” rounds instead of the recommended 2 - 10” rounds. This will shorten the bake time to about 30 -45 mins. and may also help solve any underdone cake problems… I thought this cake was very good and well worth the effort. Everyone I have served this to has loved this and I certainly plan on making it again.


2009 edit: Use cheesecloth to strain the carrots! Wrap 1/3 the carrots in a cheesecloth pouch, twist it shut and squeeze. I've finally figured out how to make this moist without sogginess. My family loves carrot cake so I’ve made this recipe many times since I first found it. First, do what you can the night before and store ingredients in ziplock bags/tupperware. Grate the carrots, strain the pineapple, sift the dry ingredients, etc. The only things I added: 1/4 tsp each of nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves, added 1.5x the vanilla and cinnamon, ½ tsp baking POWDER, and the zest of one lemon. I nuked the raisins in equal parts of the drained pineapple juices and rum. The raisins absorbed most of the liquids and were really plump and delicious. Save a few tablespoons to add to the cake. I didn’t want to risk a dry cake so I compromised. I drained the carrots BEFORE I added the brown sugar. After the carrots sit for an hour, there will still be some liquid; add all of it. My cake ended up moist, flavorful, and TALL. Don't over-mix or let your cake sit too long. Baking soda reacts immediately so if you over-mix or leave it around, the gas will escape and your cake will be flat. Use the good pans. Line the bottom of your layer pans with wax paper or parchment paper. Better safe than sorry! To make a bundt, bake at 325 for 75-90 minutes. Use a cream cheese glaze: beat 4oz cream cheese with 2tsp vanilla and 2c powdered sugar. And 1-2tbsp milk/rum to get spreading consistency.

Also, I like tall cakes, so I used three 9-in pans for three thinner layers (baked about 32 minutes), which provided more area for frosting, which is totally the best part of carrot cake, right? For frosting, I used this recipe, but increased it to 3 packages (lowfat) crm chs, 3/4 cup of butter, 3 cups sugar, healthy splash of vanilla:

  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. Store in the refrigerator after use.

Such. A good. Cake.

That'll be it for cakes for a while.

But as for pie, you know, every day around here is Pie day :-)


Anonymous said...

You do know you have the most adorable child on the planet, right? :P

Which cute cupcake shop in London? I am in need of those mushrooms ...


Irene said...

I love that mushroom cake!

beth said...

Mushroom on cake is my fave. Thanks for the carrot cake recipe. Looks super.

claudine giovannoni said...

Great!!! Thank's a lot for sharing...
I'll try them out... a tip for "mushroom's freaks" **you can do it by youself using almand paste. On the market you may find several colours...
Have a lovely day

Laurence King said...

What a fun post! Thanks for the recipes and the yummy pictures. And that little girl of yours...hmmm, too cute for words...

Alysa Stewart said...

The cakes look stellar! Your bad photos look like my good photos, ha! Happy birthday to C. Pie!

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