Okay folks I promise that we didn’t forget about you or stop cooking!
I finished Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman’s Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker by Gesine Bullock-Prado about a month ago. There were so many recipes in this book that I wanted to make. I have to admit I was a bit confused and overwhelmed on how to veganinze the recipes. I am still pretty new at this baking thing. Altering recipes is something that I still need a little bit more experience.
Overall I enjoyed the book. It was a really quick and easy read. It really hit home when she talked about watching such a strong and independent person like her mother wither away and die right before her eyes from cancer. I also lost my mother to cancer in 2001. Gesine totally made sense to me after that because I was able to relate to her. I give Gesine a lot of credit for leaving a successful job with her sister, Sandra Bullock’s production company to start her own bakery business. There are a ton of people who wish they had the guts to hang up a successful 9-5 to follow their hearts, dreams and passions.
I didn’t agree with Gesine’s attitude toward vegans but I can totally see where she is coming from. No one wants to feel like someone’s beliefs or way of life are being preached or force-fed on them. Vegans tend to be perceived as very pushy. You will not find me telling people what they should and should not eat. I think it is a very personal choice. I do not want people telling me what I should eat so, I choose to respect other people’s free will to choose. Gesine does mention in her book how difficult it would be to make vegan things that taste good. I have had some awesome tasting vegan desserts and pastries from some pretty awesome bakeries in New York, so it is very possible.
I am not the perfect vegan. I had a few moments of weakness and I made her carrot cake recipe without any vegan adjustments to the recipe. Also I am sorry to say I did not make this cake gluten free. Shaun was not interested in this cake so I saw no point in not using regular flour. I am going to toot my own here and say that my cooking ability has come a long way. I would have never thought that I would be able to make a three tier cake from scratch and it taste amazing! The first time I made Gesine’s carrot cake was Easter weekend. It tasted great but it looked like a snow storm. I didn’t realize there was an art to frosting. I definitely should have asked for help or tips. I knew I needed to make this cake again because I wanted a great picture to post and well because the cake tasted amazing. I decided to start this cake on Monday night. You’re probably thinking who tries to make a three tier cake during a work week?! Only me I know. But I was feeling pretty sad and there is no better pick me up then C-A-K-E!! Shaun was kind enough to grate the carrots for me. Honestly I love making this cake but grating the carrots make this cake such a pain. I know you must be kind to the star of the show, but the first time I made this cake my arm hurt for like two days from grating the carrots. I know I am such a wimp! Below you will find Gesine’s carrot cake recipe.
For the cake
1 ½ cups vegetable oil, plus additional for the pans
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon nutmeg
3 cups finely grated peeled carrots (about 1 pound)
For the frosting
4 cups of confectioners’ sugar
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake
Preheat the oven to 325 °F. Lightly grease three 8-inch round cake pans with 1 ½-inch sides. Line the bottoms of the pans with wax paper and lightly grease the paper.
Place the sugar and oil in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the sugar and oil mixture and beat on low until all ingredients are incorporated. Stir in the carrots.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, if you must. But you can also gently press the top; if it springs back and if the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, it’s done. Set the cakes on racks and let them cool in the pans 15 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks and cool completely. (Cakes can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature.)
For the frosting
In an electric mixer, beat all the ingredients with the whisk attachment until smooth and creamy.
To assemble the cake
Place one completely cool cake layer on a lovely cake platter. Spread with ¾ cup frosting.
Top with another layer cake layer. Spread with ¾ cup frosting. Top with the remaining cake layer. Using and offset spatula spread the remaining frosting in decorative swirls over the sides and top of the cake.
When I made this cake I used organic ingredients. I ran out of vegetable oil so I used grape seed oil the second time I made this cake. I actually think it tasted better with the grape seed oil. Also I did not use any wax paper since I bake with silicone. I do not own an offset spatula so I frosted the cake without it. I used this video on About.com on how to frost a layer cake. I found it extremely helpful for a beginner like myself. http://video.about.com/baking/How-to-Frost-a-Cake.htm This cake was even a hit at work. My co-workers loved the cake. If I can make this, anyone can!