I've been eyeing this recipe in the Rebar cookbook since I bought it a couple of years ago. It just sounded so decadent, complex and tasty! Finally I got the chance to make it a couple of weeks ago for father's day dinner.
I've never made a cake before (not counting cheesecakes and cupcakes) that didn't come from a box. I never really had an interest in it, especially icing it which seemed like such a pain. Ironically, icing the cake ended up being my favourite part. For some reason recently I've been really into the idea of cupcakes and cakes so I was more than ready to try out this recipe! It's basically a tricked out carrot cake - add white chocolate to the cream cheese icing, and add coconut and pineapple to the cake (as well as walnuts, dates and obviously carrot).
I loved every step of making this cake. Mixing up all the ingredients for the batter (minus having to cut up the extremely sticky dates), baking two perfect round little cakes, putting a layer of icing between the two cakes (yes I found this very exciting!), carefully spreading the icing around the sides of the cake trying to make it even and not get crumbs in the icing (probably where my fear of icing cakes originated), and finally topping it off with toasted coconut (which I kind of threw at the sides of the cake to make it stick). I'm so in love with making cakes. I wish I had a reason to make a cake at least once a week.
As for the taste of the cake - delicious. The icing was definitely sweet (but what do you expect with cream cheese + icing sugar + white chocolate) but so tasty, but then cream cheese icing is my favourite kind. The actual cake was very moist and packed with flavour (which is to be expected with all those delicious mix ins). The recipe might look very involved and complicated but it's actually really easy to make. A very successful cake making experience for me, and I look forward to making this cake again for my brother's birthday next year! And perhaps getting one of those cake domes that has a pedestal (because it's not fair to the cake to not be properly showcased, right?)
Carrot Coconut Cake (with Cream Cheese-White Chocolate Icing)
(Adapted from the Rebar Modern Food Cookbook)
Yields one very delicious 8" round cake
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
3/4 cup (180 mL) crushed pineapple
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped dates
3/4 cup olive oil (or other oil)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
9 oz (270g) cream cheese (firm block, not spreadable)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz (90g) white chocolate
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour two 8" round cake pans and set aside. Combine grated carrot, pineapple, coconut and walnuts in a large bowl. In a mixing bowl, beat the sugars with the eggs. Stir in the vanilla and whip on high until the volume has tripled. On low, pour the oil in slowly to blend in.
2. Combine the remaining dry ingredients and gently stir into the egg mix. Fold in the carrot mixture. Divide the batter among the cake pans and smooth the tops. Bake 30 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
3. While the cakes cool, prepare the frosting. Beat cream cheese on high until smooth and fluffy. Lightly blend in vanilla and butter. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat. Add hot melted chocolate to the cream cheese mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on high again until smooth and fluffy. Slowly add icing sugar, stopping to scrape down the sides now and then. beat on high until all the sugar is well incorporated and the frosting is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
4. Spread bottom layer with one third of the frosting, smoothing it evenly to the edges. Chill 10 minutes. Place the top cake layer on and frost the top and sides as you like. garnish with toasted coconut, walnuts and/or a decorative piped border. Store refrigerated where it will keep well for up to 4 days.