This was actually my first effort at my Winter 2012 To Do list baking goal. This recipe is obviously WAY overdue and probably won’t be very beneficial now that the holidays are over. BUT if you’re in the mood for a delicious winter dessert and have the time to put in a little effort, let me suggest making this amazing cake roll! I had been wanting to try out a cake roll for a long time because, well let’s just be honest, they look super cool. Luckily, my lovely friend Sarah hosted a “Christmas Cake” party this year. The party was on a Sunday afternoon, so I used Sunday morning / early afternoon to assemble this beautiful cake. I’ve mentioned before… I’m not a baker. But this kinda makes me look like one right?? Good thing I had Mike there to supervise me (and take 1000 photos). I used this recipe because it required the least complicated ingredients. There were other recipes telling me to buy creme fraiche and I was like, thanks but no thanks.
First obstacle.. I was supposed to use parchment paper. I didn’t even really know what that was to be honest. Again, my childhood cakes came out of a box from Betty Crocker or from an adorable Italian baker named Nino. But I quickly googled and realized it was kind of like wax paper, which I happened to have (and have never used because I had never once had a use for it). The article I was reading said parchment paper was better than wax paper, but I figured beggars can’t be choosers. Wax paper it is! I added extra flour in hopes it would prevent sticking.
I’m not patient, so the eggs portion was definitely hard for me. You had to beat the yolks for forever and then the whites for EVER LONGER. Lame sauce. This was by far my least favorite part. My egg whites totally didn’t get stiff before I said “screw it” and threw them into the batter. I don’t think it really mattered.
Before I knew it, into the oven it went! It cooked really quickly because it was so thin.
While the cake was in the oven, I read the instructions for how to roll the cake probably 400 times. And then made Mike read the instructions. And then explained to him what I thought the instructions said to see if that’s what he thought they said too. Finally, I think we had some sort of idea what we were going to do. I was only upset that I had to put that towel in the wash after. Dishes are one unfortunately side effects of cooking… but laundry too??
While the cake was cooling in its towel cocoon, I made the icing, which was my favorite part. Making whipped cream icing is possibly one of the easiest things ever. And this frosting tasted SO GOOD with all the spices in it.
Then it was time for the moment of truth! Unroll, fill with frosting, roll it back up, and pray.
I covered up a few minor imperfections with the rest of the frosting (including plugging up the ends to make it look more solid) and VOILA! Gingerbread cake for everyone! This whole process did end up taking several hours (including letting the cake cool completely). I even changed outfits. Yeah can you believe it? I changed INTO this hippie/yuppie combo outfit I’m rocking below. Sundays are not for style my friends. I swear I put different clothes on (and bathed) before the party.
But thankfully the cake was a HUGE hit at the party. It is pictured below alongside Sarah’s lovely white chocolate triple layer cake that was divine. If I had to make one adjustment, I’d put a little more frosting on the inside. I didn’t want to use too much or not be able to roll it up correctly, but it could have stood a little bit more frosting.
I wouldn’t call myself a “baker”. I love to cook but baking has never really been my thing. Growing up baking was pretty limited to cakes from boxes, brownies from boxes, and Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies (I have the recipe on the back of the package memorized… seriously, try me). I think part of the reason I don’t bake much is my very limited self control when sweets are in my living space. I don’t have too much trouble turning them down at catered meetings or parties, but if they’re living with me… welllllll it’s not just a “one and done” kind of deal. Also, I’m not particularly precise in my cooking. I tend to eye ball ingredients, leave things out if I feel like it, and go on look / feel. This isn’t particularly conducive to highly scientific and precise baking. However, this winter I put on my Winter To Do List that I wanted to try my hand at two “new to me” desserts. My wonderful, devoted, Saint of a boyfriend turned 29 last Friday and I offered to bake him whatever he wanted as part of his gift. He asked for a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Hmmm cake from scratch ay? Alright, I’ll bite.
I used this recipe because I definitely didn’t trust myself to go without one. Here’s one thing about my kitchen though. Even though its MUCH bigger than my old kitchen… I don’t have a food processor. So I had to shred the carrots by hand with a cheese grater. You have to love someone a WHOLE BUNCH to shred three cups of carrots by hand (also almost the tips off several fingers.. duh). These pictures are meant to give you an accurate representation of what a disaster my kitchen became during the shredding process. No artsy cooking photos here my friends! Hurricane Carrot!
But once the carrots were shredded, things were moving very smoothly. Remember how I mentioned that I’m not particularly precise when cooking? Well I started thinking when adding the dry ingredients that this cake required a TON of ingredients. I was skeptical but shook it off thinking “carrot cake is really dense… so that’s probably why I need so much of everything.”
The batter also seemed runnier than usual to me but my cake experience is almost completely limited to box cakes so I figured I had little frame of reference. The recipe called for a 9 x 13 in pan but I accidentally left mine at a friend’s house over the holidays (FYI Sarah K… you have my 9 x 13 in glass pan…) So I used an 8 x 8 pan instead. I figured, “Oh whatever it’ll just be a thicker cake… more cake for me!” I started getting nervous though when the batter filled the pan almost up to the top. Rut roh. Then I looked back at the recipe. Holy GOD this cake makes 24 servings!!! How did I miss that? I couldn’t easily halved the recipe. Oh well… in the oven you go!
While I had a silent panic attack that the cake would bubble over in the over and set off my fire alarms, I whipped up the icing. Cream cheese icing is the BOMB.COM and it is SO easy to make. When I was young my mom would occasionally make butter cream icing from confectioners sugar and eggs but I remember that took FOREVER to “form peaks”. Whatever… No thanks.
Mercifully, the cake didn’t bubble over in the oven! However, it took approximately 100 years to cook all the way through. Lesson learned… one should really follow the directions. When the cake was FINALLY done, I let it cool overnight before extracting / icing.
I also wouldn’t say I have a particularly “gentle” touch either, so I had some trouble getting the cake out of the pan. I lost a little bit of it but was able to cover most of the damage with icing. Go me! Sprinkled with pecans and VOILA! Carrot Cake for my main man 🙂 And oh… my… GOD… It was amazing. It was so dense and sweet though, both of us could only manage a small piece. We will literally be eating carrot cake for the rest of our lives. I did put a large chunk of the cake in the freezer for a certain someone (cough cough Sarah Jenkins cough cough) who will be visiting in a few weeks 🙂
Also… how could you not love this guy? He and Fig had a dance party while I was baking. We were listening to Songza (which is an awesome app if you don’t already use it) and the occasion Mike selected was “Getting Ready to Go Out” (even though we were going absolutely no where because we’re not cool enough to go on Thursdays anymore), the station was titled “Vodka Jams… Ladies Be Pre-gamin”. Love ❤