Carrot Cake Wedding Cake

When my very dear friends Ren & Mel asked me earlier this year to make their wedding cake, I was beyond honoured. Although they insisted it didn’t need to be a grand cake meant to feed all the guests, I was still a little daunted - a wedding cake is a Big Deal however you look at it.

After several discussions, we settled on a carrot cake, with classic cream cheese icing, and no nuts or raisins. Mel & Ren didn’t specifically ask for a tiered cake, but I behooved me to make this cake as special as I could muster.

We also talked about embellishments. I knew their decor had nods to their respective hometowns of Ottawa and Windsor, and some maps, so I suggested a little bunting on the cake made from maps. My mental picture ended up being uncannily like a miniature version of the bunting they were already creating to decorate the venue. I decided to feature Ottawa, Windsor, Toronto, and the Sault (where Ren has family).

As for the cake itself, I doubled a standard cake recipe (see below), and while I I thought doubling the icing recipe (including 2 packages of cream cheese + 8 cups of icing sugar!) would be enough, I ended up dashing out to buy more icing sugar to make it a triple batch (what you see in the photo is only 2/3 of the icing I ended up making).

The cake finally came together, and with some help from my friend Esther (thank you!!), I brought it by cab to the venue in the Distillery. I was so scared thinking I might trip on the cobblestones, ruining my hard work at the last minute. I was beyond relieved to deliver it safely into the caterers’ care. I snapped a few photos in the kitchen and took a deep breath.

Ren & Mel cut the cake, as “Night Moves” began playing. I took about a million dimly-lit photos (more photos of the cake than almost anything - I was too busy enjoying the party for the most part!) as I watched them take a bite. It was worth every bit of the effort I put into it.

To Ren & Mel: I love you both so much, and I'm incredibly humbled that you trusted me with an important part of your special day. It means so much to me to share in the joy of the occasion. xoxo

Carrot Cake (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 8 large eggs
  • 6 cups grated peeled carrots (~2lb carrots)

Cream Cheese Icing (adapted from Glorious Treats)

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 3 250g packages of cream cheese
  • About 14 cups of icing sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Pumpkin Cookies: Toffee/White Chocolate Chip, & Pumpkin Gingersnaps

I LOVE pumpkin. I think pumpkin spice lattes are overrated (although I recently tried a pumpkin spice frappuccino - yum, like a pumpkin milkshake), but pumpkin baking: that’s my jam.  I have a Pinterest board exclusively for pumpkin recipes, and I bought $12.87 worth of pumpkin puree (3 cans) when it was on sale recently.

Toffee / Toffee & White Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies

Along with my running team, I ran the Zoo Run 10K a few weeks ago. Despite needing to wake up ridiculously early to run 15K before the race (we’re training for a marathon; yes, we’re a bit nuts), I wanted to make some post-race treats for my teammates the night before.

I modified this pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe, omitting the egg (apparently it helps prevent pumpkin cookies from being too cake-like). Instead of chocolate chips, I used toffee bits; in half the batch, I also added white chocolate chips as an experiment. Both versions were very well-received.

Pumpkin Gingersnaps

My colleague and I planned to bring in cookies today for National Homemade Cookies Day (U.S. national, presumably, but whatever), so I made pumpkin gingersnaps. I again left out the egg, and swapped margarine for the butter, to make them vegan (my colleague/cookie-day-partner-in-crime is vegan). They were more gingersnap-flavour than pumpkin, but delicious regardless. 

How many more pumpkin things can I bake? (Besides the http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/2012/10/low-fat-pumpkin-oatmeal-chocolate-chip-muffins/ and brown butter pumpkin waffles I’ve also made but of which I neglected to take photos…) ONLY TIME WILL TELL.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I took another practice run at the carrot cake recipe I’ll be making for my friends’ upcoming wedding. I brought along the mini-cupcakes, without icing (they were just-barely-out-of-the-oven!), to a bachelorette event, and the bride-to-be approved of the taste. I used the Smitten Kitchen recipe, with 1.5X the spices (my friend said she likes it with a lot of spice!), and no nuts or raisins.

I then iced the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting - I’ll probably keep the cake pretty simple, but I played around with the icing a bit on these. I had some soy cream cheese, so I used that - and while I’ll use real cream cheese for the actual wedding cake, no one was the wiser.

Carrot Zucchini Cake

I haven’t felt like my usual self lately - more like an automaton whose time is consumed by running and work. Nothing’s wrong per se, but something seems a little out of sync these days.

Few activities make me feel as much like my happiest self as baking. I probably should’ve just crashed at 8pm (goodness knows I’m tired enough, having run 32K & worked 9hrs yesterday). And yet, I had some carrots and zucchinis in the fridge that I know will hit their past-prime in a few days, combined with an all-consuming need to get my hands in some flour and STEP AWAY FROM MY PHONES for half an hour.

I put on one of my favourite LPs, Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush, grated some carrots & zucchini in the food processor, and made a snacking cake. 

For that half hour or so, things felt kind of okay. I felt more like myself again — and had a little cake to show for it.

August(ish) Baking Roundup

I haven’t been baking as much as usual lately I haven’t been posting photos of my baking lately (largely due to busy work times + marathon training), but my oven hasn’t been entirely chilled.

In late July, I made coconut brownies & morning glory muffins (I can’t find the recipe I used, oops). As it turns out, I REALLY like morning glory muffins - carrot & coconut, oh my! For a weekend away at the cottage with friends, I contributed (vegan) coconut banana bread (do we sense a recurring theme?!). After a long Sunday run a few weeks ago, I made myself coconut carrot pancakes. Prior to the Midsummer Night Run two weeks ago, I made myself some oatmeal everything-ish cookies, but neglected to take a photo.

For my good friend’s annual “no pants” birthday party last weekend, I made some vegan maple cinnamon buns - which seemed appropriate for the theme. I modified this vegan cinnamon buns recipe, adding maple syrup instead of the sugar, as well as about a tsp of maple extract in the dough and in the icing. I also inadvertently figured out how to make maple sugar candy (yay!) by boiling down the syrup & adding some margarine to make sort of a caramel as a base for the icing.

Finally, I capped the month off today with a carrot cake, which was nice enough to merit its own post.

I’m excited about fall baking - my pumpkin-themed Pinterest board is going to get a workout!

Carrot Cake: Happy birthday, Katherine!

Today, I made a carrot cake for my sister-in-law’s birthday dinner. It was only my second time making a carrot cake, and it went over rather well. (I even managed to partially overcome my admittedly weird personal aversion to cream cheese icing.)

Recipe: I used an Allrecipes carrot cake recipe my mom had printed, which was pretty much identical to Smitten Kitchen’s recipe (I used 1/2 cup each raisins & walnuts), with a cream cheese icing.

"Pie crust, I learned, is one of those things—maybe like relationships—where practice really does make perfect. Or at least it makes for a better result. The more you do it, the less afraid you are of messing up."

S’mores Ice Cream Cups

My recent obsession with coconut is matched only by my seasonal obsession with s’mores. I was looking for an occasion conducive to making another s’mores ice cream cake, but I had a flash of inspiration: why not make individual-size s’mores ice cream cups so I could eat them one at a time (instead of contending with an entire cake)?

Since my friend Mel recently suggested that it’s nice to see my baking process, rather than the just end results, I took step-by-step photos.

Here’s how to recreate this recipe (adapted from these ice cream cake, and ice cream cup recipes). It’s actually really simple, other than waiting patiently during freezing.

Base: Graham cracker crumbs (about 2 cups, but 1.5 would be good) + coconut oil (+ a little butter when I ran out of oil). (Set some aside to sprinkle on top). Press into a muffin tin. Chill for ~20-30 min.

Chocolate: Unsweetened coconut milk (about 1/2 cup), heated, with chocolate chips (about 1 cup). Heat in short bursts in the microwave until melted, stirring often. Pour over graham layer & freeze until set.

Marshmallows: Roasted under the broiler for a few minutes until browned. Set aside.

Ice cream: I used Vanilla Fudge Crackle, spooned over frozen chocolate layer. Sprinkle leftover graham crumbs, and put a marshmallow on top.

The result is as good as you’d hope, and the individual portions are just right. S’mores ice cream cake fix: achieved!

Coconut Mousse

Continuing with my recent coconut obsession, I made this coconut mousse on Saturday for a family BBQ (yes, technically it wasn’t baked, but whatever).

It didn’t set as well as I liked (perhaps because of the humidity?), so it was more of a pudding, but it still tasted delicious. I’ll have to try it again! 

Maple Blueberry Bran Muffins

I’ve been on a real coconut kick lately, but I’ve wanted to make Smitten Kitchen’s Blue Sky Bran muffins for a little while now. When I was little, my mom would try to sneak bran into baked goods to make them more healthy… but I now find myself enjoying things that have a bit more substance to them.

In honour of Canada Day, and just generally loving maple, I decided to make them maple bran muffins, with some fresh blueberries (not local, sadly).

The result: a nice bran muffin - moist, not too dense, and not too sweet. I wouldn’t mind a bit more maple flavour since it’s fairly subtle, but overall I’m pretty happy with these. 

Substitutions:

  • I didn’t have eggs, so I used 1/3c unsweetened applesauce + 1 tsp ground flaxseed
  • swapped the 1/4c brown sugar for 1/4c maple syrup
  • added 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • instead of buttermilk, used 1c coconut milk + ~1/4c orange juice

*PS don’t the blueberries on the muffin make it look like frog eyes? I can’t un-see Kermit the Frog here…