Cristin's Birthday Cake

My girlfriends and I celebrated Cristin's birthday in July.  We had so much fun planning each part of the day.  We all wanted her to feel special and loved.  The one thing that was a little terrifying to take on was the cake.  You see, my friend Cristin isn't a normal baker.  She is one of the best bakers I know.  Now, I have a strong belief that food tastes like the heart of it's baker and I believe this is one reason Cristin's sweets are so darn delicious.  She loves to bake... and all the while, she loves the person she is baking for. She doesn't just add a dash of nutmeg, she adds a dash of nutmeg and little prayer.  She doesn't count the cups of flour, she counts the way she loves the person she is baking for.  It is a beautiful thing.  So when we started thinking about who would make the cake, we all were a little nervous.  Finally, taking a deep breath and a great leap of faith, I said I would try.  First step... what is Cristin's favorite type of cake?  Luckily for me, our daughters are all friends. So after a few slumber parties, I found out it was carrot cake.

Carrot cake and I have a long history and many things in common.  We are both filled with spice, people either love us or hate us, and we are either very yummy or we just leave a dry taste in your mouth. And now I know one more-  we are both loved by Cristin.  

Two years ago I invented a carrot cake.  It was invented because I was angry and hurt, so I knew I needed to tweak Cristin's cake so that it would be made out of love. Three carrot cakes later... and a few pounds later... I was ready to make it for my dear friend.  

Last week I had her over so that we could make it again, this time together.  I am naming the cake after my sweet friend.  So here you are... every nutty, sweet, spicy and perfectly creamy step to make Cristin's Birthday Cake.  

First you need to gather what will be the Spicy Seven.  (Really, you should preheat your oven to 375.  I always forget to do that.)

Back to the Spicy Seven:

7 cups of carrots
1 1/2 cups of dark brown sugar
5 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

The spicy seven.

First, grate the carrots.  I have found that 7 medium carrots are usually enough.  Loosely place the grated carrots in the cup.  You will need 7 cups. 

loosely placed carrots

Now mix all of the spices with the carrots and dark brown sugar. 

This is going to become what Cristin calls "the goodness." 

Now set that aside and get out everything you will need for the batter. 

You will need:

4 eggs
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups of flour
1/2 cup of pecan pieces

meet the batter team

Beat the eggs with the sugar and oil.  Then add the salt, baking soda and flower.  Mix well until the batter is creamy.  

creamy batter

By now your carrots and spices will be "the goodness" that you have been waiting for.  

the goodness

They should be juicy.  Add the carrots and all its goodness to the batter and mix well.  You should also add the pecans at this time.  I seem to forget that step a lot. (If you do forget, you can always use them to top the cake with.)  

Everything mixed in nicely.  

Evenly distribute the cake mix into two 9 inch round pans.  Bake at 375 for 45 minutes.  All ovens are different, so be sure to check on it a little early and be willing to let it cook a little longer.  I just stick a knife in it and see if it is ready.  You can also use a toothpick. Don't look for a clean knife or toothpick, just not wet. 

out and ready to cool

Once the pans are cool enough to touch, I take the cakes out of the pans and let cool on the cutting board.  

OK, now we can make the frosting.  I like a simple cream cheese frosting.  I also do a double batch of frosting because it is so yummy and you will want some for the  middle of the cake.  

I am giving you the measurements for a double batch.  For one batch of this frosting, say for cupcakes or something, split this in half.  

6 cups of powdered sugar
2 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese (left out for a few minutes to soften)
1 cup of butter (left out for a few minutes to soften)
vanilla coffee creamer- about two tablespoons 

ready to be frosting

Mix everything together until creamy.  This will take several minutes. I add one tablespoon of the creamer in the beginning and then slowly add more if needed.  

cream cheese frosting creamy goodness

OK, now we are ready to cut the top off one of the cakes.  I usually pick the one I tested with my knife or toothpick. 

off with her head 

***This is very important.  Do not waste that little sliver. This is when you get to taste the cake.  
Take the little sliver and cut it in pizza shapes and dollop some of the frosting on top. 

trust me, my kids fight over this part.  Yum! 

Now to frost.  I am not a baker. I am not very good at frosting a cake... but I don't know many who are.  So this isn't how to do it, this is how I do it.  And if I can do it, so can you.

First put a nice thick layer of frosting on the decapitated cake.   

it is okay if some drips down the side

Now put the other cake on top.  Then slather with the frosting.  I usually start with the top and move onto the sides.  I have noticed that if I get most of the frosting on the cake, I can smooth everything out and try to make it look presentable.   

as you can see, mine is sloppy.... but it is good

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,