uncle ed's carrot cake

My mom's sister Teresa and her husband Ed, along with their daughters, lived right down the street from us as we were growing up. We spent countless hours under their care (and their daughters at our house) and we all became very close. I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to know those cousins so well, to count them among dearest relatives and friends.

These days, we are all scattered far and wide- from Michigan, to Denver, Salt Lake, Fort Worth, and here in Atlanta- but every once in a while, a recipe will take me right back there. This cake is a recipe from my uncle Ed, who worked in a killer restaurant in Hailey, Idaho for several years. My mom adapted it a bit, and I still just a hair more- but it is truly the perfect carrot cake. Usually cooks use walnuts in their carrot cakes, which I can't eat, but this one calls for toasted almonds in their place. It's a super simple recipe that takes very little time to put together, and always turns out perfectly. The rich cream cheese frosting is really just gilding the lily.

Make sure you drain the pineapple well, and mince the almonds very fine. Use the small holed grater to grate the carrots, and let them drain as well. The batter will be very thick, but don't worry. It will turn out just right.

Here's how it's done:

Preheat your oven to 350 and grease and flour to 8" round cake pans very well. 

Get your ingredients ready- grate the carrots, drain the pineapple, toast and mince the almonds.

Whisk together the dry ingredients very well.

Now whisk together the wet ingredients very well.

Now combine the wet and dry ingredients.

The batter will be very thick. Do not be afraid! Separate it into your two greased and floured pans.

Bake the cakes for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. 

Cool in the pans for ten minutes before turning out.

Once the cake is totally cool, make the frosting.

Combine the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until completely homogenous.

Sift the powdered sugar right on top of that mix.

Combine the mixture with a spatula a bit first, so the powdered sugar doesn't go flying everywhere. Then combine fully with the electric mixer unless you have really, really strong arms.

Now you can ice your cake! One super important note: the cake must be COOL. I'm talking, cool to the touch. No heat AT ALL. Put your palm flat on both rounds and make sure there is no heat left whatsoever. Okay? Okay.

Pick your platter, then put your first round down, flat side down. You always want the top (imperfect) sides of the rounds facing into the center of the cake, unless you lop off the tops to make them perfectly flat. I'm not one to waste cake in pursuit of flatness, so I just cover up the imperfections with frosting.

Make sure it's nice and centered the way you want it on your platter.

Now plop a few dollops of frosting on the top, about 1/2-3/4 cup.

Spread it around judiciously, adding more if needed so it's nice and even. Don't worry about getting all the way to the edge. Now pop the other round on top, this time with the top down and the flat side pointing up.

See how the frosting doesn't completely fill to the edge? Totally okay. Now, about a tablespoon at a time, you're going to fill in the empty edge using your offset spatula. 

Take a dollop of the frosting at a time, right on the tip of the spatula. Press the frosting into the empty space, then press it flat as you turn the cake slightly.

Keep doing this until the whole edge is filled in.

Perfect! Now you're just going to finish the crumb coat on the rest of the cake. The crumb coat is a thin coat of frosting that prevents crumbs from escaping into the finished layer. Using your offset spatula, carefully run frosting around the sides of the cake and on top, just as a skim coat. It doesn't have to be perfect.

Once your crumb coat is finished, pop it in the fridge for at least an hour. Go find something else to do. Might I suggest cleaning up the mess you've made so far?

After an hour, pull 'er out. It should be well set at this point. Now you can finish the frosting however you like- it doesn't have to be fancy, You can just apply the rest of the frosting with your offset spatula around the whole cake, or you can do something crazy! Cakes are for fun, I say.

I decided to leave this cake with just the crumb coat on the sides, and do rosettes on top. I used a #22 star tip.

Starting around the edge, make rosettes that touch and are roughly the same size. Try to make sure they start and end the same place each time. Keep going like this, filling in the whole top of the cake.

See how I filled in the spaces between the rosettes with just small dots of piping? Super simple. 

That's it! Enjoy!

Here's the recipes: