Sometimes I'm in a real hurry to eat the food I'm photographing: I'm home from work, totally hungry, dinner is getting colder by the nanosecond, and usually I just want to know what it tastes like. These factors create the perfect storm for photo suckage, and that's when Jeff will diplomatically suggest that I check out cooking sites by actual cooks/photographers to see how it's done. And I'll say, "Yeah, I'll look into that."
But if I have some time on my hands, I like to overachieve. I knew that my sorry frosting skills needed to be camouflaged today, so I'm going to share my thought process (as my principal Phil likes to say):
Ooh, I could go outside and pick some daffodils, but it's still raining and [quick internet search] they're pretty much poisonous! Maybe I could cut some flowers out of magazines and make a collage--no, too hard! Well, what if I just looked around the house and found some random stuff like trilobites [which didn't make the cut but you've got to admit that idea's a winner] and placed them around the cake? LET'S DO IT.
So what we have here is a complimentary scenic calendar from an auto repair place, a beloved plastic pheasant, a stone egg, some silk flowers you might remember from past decorative experiments, and a Peep. You're welcome.
This morning I felt a primal need to bake a carrot cake, the same kind I made Mom for Birthmas. This need was so severe that I had absolutely no problem driving to our local store at 7:00 in a downpour for ingredients. I love baking on a dark, gloomy morning, don't you? You're listening to Morning Edition, grating carrots, preheating your oven while other people--suckers, all!--are frittering the weekend away by sleeping in, while you are achieving things. People, if you want the weekend to last, you've got to get up early.
And I don't think I need to tell you that a carrot cake is the obvious dessert choice for any Easter party you might be throwing next weekend. (Unless you decide to make an Easter Log.) I cut Martha Stewart's huge, HUGE recipe in half and was able to make four cakes in my deluxe three-tiered cake pan, but this will make 14 cupcakes or, I would guess, two 8-inch round cakes. Double it if you need 28 cupcakes or if your last name is Duggar.
- 2 C peeled and finely grated carrots <-- This was 6 carrots for me.
- 1 1/2 large eggs, room temperature <-- Sorry. Beat the second egg and discard half.
- 1 C sugar
- 3/4 C vegetable oil
- 1/6 C buttermilk
- 3/4 t vanilla
- 1/4 C crushed pineapple, well drained
- 1/2 C walnuts or pecans, toasted and finely chopped, if desired
- 1/4 C sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
- 1 t baking powder
- 1/2 t baking soda
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 t ground cinnamon
- 1/2 t ground ginger
- tiny pinch ground cloves <-- literally 1/16 of a teaspoon!
Preheat oven to 325.
Line a standard muffin tin with
paper liners. (Or grease and flour your cake pans. I like to put rounds of parchment paper in the bottoms of mine, too.)
In a bowl, whisk together carrots, eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla seeds, and coconut, pineapple and nuts if desired. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Stir flour mixture into carrot mixture until well combined.
Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until testers inserted into centers come out clean, 23 to 28 minutes.c (My weird pan took 35 minutes.) Let cool in tins on wire racks, 10 minutes. Turn out cupcakes onto wire racks, and let cool completely. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen for up to 2 months in airtight containers.
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- 1 (8 ounce) block 'neufchatel" (1/3 less fat) cream cheese, softened
- 1 t vanilla
- 1 C powdered sugar (or so)
With an electric mixer, fluff up the cream cheese for a few seconds. Then add the vanilla and powdered sugar and tint with food coloring, if desired. Frost the cake in that lame way of yours.