Classic Carrot Cake with Vanilla Bean Rum Frosting

classic carrot cake with vanilla bean rum frosting

  For many, carrot cake is a must-have on the dessert table after enjoying a fattening dinner on Easter Sunday. In my own family, it was actually quite rare. My Grandmother always made a banana pudding trifle or a layered coconut cake for Easter. I only recall eating carrot cake as a spring dessert served at church events or family get-togethers; but though it was scarcely served in my home, it has always been a family favorite when we had the pleasure of eating it.

  This recipe wasn’t specifically meant for Easter, though. I’ve been meaning to post a cake for the past week but they just haven’t worked out, so I decided on this classic carrot cake with vanilla bean rum frosting and well, it happens Easter is this weekend. The recipe for this cake was given to my mother by my Grandmother which she acquired from a friend (my, what a mouthful!) twenty-something years ago. It has always been a family favorite. Of course, I did adapt it slightly. Typically, walnuts or pecans are used, but instead, I used almonds.

 It’s a delicious, dense, and very moist cake. It uses a total four cups of carrots! The frosting has a very light and fluffy mouthfeel, with a slight rum flavor and vanilla bean speckled all about.

 

CLASSIC CARROT CAKE WITH VANILLA BEAN RUM FROSTING


 cake:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups raw cane sugar

4 large eggs, room temp.

seeds from (1) vanilla bean pod

1 1/4 cup organic canola oil

1/3 cup buttermilk, room temp.

4 cups grated carrots

3/4 cups coarsely chopped almonds

   frosting:

seeds from (2) vanilla bean pods

1/4 cup dark rum

8 ounces cream cheese, room temp.

8 ounces butter, room temp.

4 cups confectioners sugar

pinch of sea salt

 method:

Before starting anything, split open two vanilla pods, scrape out the seeds and place the seeds and the pods in a small jar with a lid. Add the 1/4 cup of dark rum and close the jar. Let the ingredients sit for an hour or more. When ready to use, scrape remaining seeds from the bean and discard the pieces. 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three, 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices- set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, and vanilla bean seeds. Beat the ingredients with an electric hand mixer until pale and fluffy; once they reach this stage, begin streaming in the oil. Add the buttermilk and then the flour in three batches, beating each addition until just combined. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the grated carrots and chopped almonds until combined. Divide the batter amongst the three prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. They’re done when the cake springs back up after being touched lightly, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then use a knife to loosen the cake from around the edges of the pans. Invert onto wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

 for the frosting:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the softened butter and cream cheese. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula and add the powdered sugar and vanilla-infused rum. Beat on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and fluffy about3 minutes.

 assemble the cake:

 Place the first cake layer on a cake board/plate/stand and spoon about 3/4 cups of frosting on and spread around with an offset spatula. Repeat this with the second and then the third. Use any remaining frosting to frost around the edges. Or, you can use all the frosting on the first, second, and top layers and leave the sides naked. Decorate with fresh or edible flowers.

CHOCOLATE RUM BROWNIE WITH SALTED APPLE CIDER CARAMEL

    Comfortably snuggled up in a warm, cozy sweater, quietly contemplating the morning view from a window seat someplace far away with a steaming cup of coffee warming my hands;  that is an ideal chilly, October Thursday.  One I laughingly wish I woke to.  Instead, I awoke to the worst bedhead, no clean clothes to wear to work, and an empty coffee bean container.  Even though the day began in such bad taste, I am grateful that the weather is beautiful and that there was a pot of homemade chili to eat for lunch on this semi-chilly Virginia day.

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  It’s been a busy past two weeks as my family awaits the birth of my eldest sister’s little boy any day now.  We’re hoping he stays put a wee bit longer until hurricane Matthew passes (they happen to live in North East Florida).  It’s quite nerve racking being six hundred miles away from almost all your family while there’s a dangerous hurricane on its way that will affect them and others where ever it goes.  I am staying hopeful that all will be safe during its chaos.

  On top of all that, I was having yet again one of (what I like to call) my rut weeks.  To refresh my mind, I made a quick trip to the apple orchard not nine miles down the road from me.  Upon arrival is a barn, and inside lie crates full of freshly picked red and green apples of all varieties.  In the back of the barn are more crates, but instead of apples, these are full with some of the prettiest looking decorative gourds, local pumpkin, and butternut squashes.  Lining the walls are glass jugs and mason jars filled with apple cider, honey, and maple syrup.  Each time I go to this particular orchard, it’s so hard to leave with only the apples I came for.  They also make some of the best fruit preserves!  It’s rather tempting.

  Arriving home I had my heart set on apple cider and chocolate, but what to create with two.  So, I decided on this apple cider caramel(which makes the sinfully rich brownie even more sinful), with a decadent chocolate brownie flavored with rum; there wasn’t but a couple tablespoons left in the bottle so, why not?

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CHOCOLATE RUM BROWNIE WITH SALTED APPLE CIDER CARAMEL

-brownie-

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cups cocoa powder

3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons rum

2 large eggs, cold

-salted apple cider caramel-

1/4 cup apple cider

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 tablespoon water

1-ounce unsalted butter

1 cup granulated sugar

sea salt 

-method-

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease and line with parchment paper one, 8-inch cake pan.
  2. Fill a pot with a few inches of water and place over medium heat till it simmers.  Place a heatproof bowl that will sit over the top of the pot(don’t let it touch the water).  Add the butter, chopped chocolate, sugar, and cocoa powder.  Stir until just combined.  Let it sit over the simmering pot till the butter has melted and the mixture is somewhat hot when you dip your finger into it.  Remove the bowl from the pot and stir in the rum.  Let it cool until it’s just warm to touch.  Once cooled, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  The mixture should be glossy.  Whisk together the flour and salt in another bowl, then add to the chocolate mixture.  Stir well with a wooden spoon till all the flour is combined.  Pour into prepared pan and evenly spread around the pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking for doneness at the 20-minute mark with a toothpick(if it comes out clean it’s done, if not, bake for 5 minutes more).  Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then using a sharp knife, loosen around the edges.  Invert onto a wire rack then peel off the parchment.  Let it cool completely, then pour the caramel over the top.  Garnish with more sea salt(optional).

-caramel

  1. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the apple cider, cream, butter, and sugar.  Stir slightly until just combined.  Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.  Stirring occasionally, boil till the mixture till it becomes a light amber color, then remove from heat.  Add a pinch of sea salt and stir.  It should thicken after sitting for a few minutes, but make sure you don’t let it sit too long in the pot or it will start to become firm.  After letting it sit for a couple 3-4 minutes, pour over the brownie and garnish with more sea salt(optional).

APPLE RUM PEACH PIE WITH MAPLE OAT CRUNCH

  Almost two weeks have passed since I went traversing through an orchard in search of my favorite autumnal fruit.  It was the first of September, a very damp and dark one at that, but not at all in a depressing way.  It set the mood for the month, and since that day I have found myself wishing the last of summer away and yearning for fall to arrive with all its color and ecstasy.   

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  I rather loved the weather that day, I’m typing this now wishing I could go back as it is currently miserably hot and humid today.  It was quite cool that day and the fog was hanging low in the mountains; both the peaches and apples looked like candy dangling from a tree, but the apples looked especially pretty as they were bright red and glimmered with fresh droplets of rain.  I’m already excited about going back the end of this month or in early October when all the other varieties are ready.  

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  Walking under that canopy of peach trees reminded me somewhat of Alice in Wonderland as if in any given moment a white rabbit would emerge from somewhere, wearing a waistcoat and brandishing a pocket watch.  As silly as that sounds, that was the vibe I had while walking under these trees.  I really did have a smile on my face the entire time, I felt like a child who found a hideout somewhere amongst the brush.  I brought my baby sister with me (who is ten years old) and she had the same air to her.  She had so much fun picking the peaches all by herself.  I’m not sure how it would’ve felt if the sun was bright and shining.

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  Since I’ve probably talked enough about my orchard trip, I will now talk about these pies.  I’ve had this idea for mini pies, each donned with a different look, for quite some time but I didn’t have any mini pie tins.  Lucky for me I stumbled across a few just recently and was able to make them with the fruit I had just picked.  You don’t have to use mini pie tins as I did, though.  The dough amount is a perfect fit for an eight or nine-inch pie.  

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  I really love the combination of apples and peaches, though the sound of such a pie doesn’t flow as well as “apple and pear”, which was my first idea, then I switched fruits.  I see this combination as a last hoorah to summer, as peaches go out of season here around the first or second week of September and then the apples begin to arrive.  When the two are paired with rum it really is delicious!   

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RUM APPLE PEACH PIE WITH MAPLE OAT CRUNCH

pie crust

12 ounces all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 ounces unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

3-4 ounces water, ice cold

filling

3 peaches, cut into thin slices

3 apples, cut into thin slices

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons rum

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

dash of ground nutmeg

oat topping

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (or pecans)

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

other 

egg wash, (1 egg, 1 tablespoon water)

turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

METHOD:

for the pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Have on hand three, 4-inch pie tins or one, 8 or 9-inch pie tin.  
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, whisking till combined; add the cold butter and cut into the flour using a pastry blender or by pulsing in a food process till it clumps into pea-sized nuggets.  Push the flour to one side of the bowl and then add about two or three tablespoons of the cold water.  Gently toss the flour into the side with the water, using a fork, till it all comes together and forms a soft dough.  Add more water if needed.  Cut the dough equally in half and press each half into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes or till ready to use.
  3. Cut the apples and peaches into thin slices and place in a bowl, toss in the lemon juice, then add the rum.  Let the fruit soak in the rum for about 25 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and spices.  Drain the rum from the fruit, add the sugar mixture to the fruit and toss gently with your hands or a spatula.
  5.  In another bowl, combine the oats, finely chopped nuts, one-half teaspoon cinnamon, and maple syrup.  Stir till it all comes together and is crumbly(but not dry).

 Assemble the pie:  

  1. Remove one of the dough halves from the refrigerator and place on a floured surface.  Gently roll into a wide enough circle that will overhang your pie plate by about 3 inches.  Press the dough into the pan and add the fruit, then place the pie in the refrigerator as you roll out the other half of the dough the same as you did the bottom crust.  Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and place over the top of the pie.  Crimp the edges together and brush the pie top with egg wash. Using a sharp knife, cut slits around the center of the pie.  Sprinkle on the oat topping and extra sugar and bake for 35-45 minutes.

Vanilla Bean Rum Cake with Maple Buttercream

  I’ve been all about cake for the past few weeks now; I absolutely love making them!  Especially when they involve fresh flowers.  My local grocery had the prettiest mini carnations on sale, naturally I could not pass!  They looked so beautiful and reminded me so much of warmer days.  

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  This cake is very simple to put together.  The icing is rather sweet so the cake is what I like to call, half naked.  By having so little frosting on it, though, it lets you taste the cake(which by the way, is rather delicious with all that rum and vanilla in it!).  It’s tiny just so you know.   I was finally able to get those 6-inch cake pans I’ve been wanting so badly so, I had to try them out!

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Vanilla Bean Rum Cake with Maple Buttercream
Makes one, two layer 6-inch cake.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  3. 2 cups cake flour
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  6. 3/4 cup milk, room temperature
  7. 2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped out
  8. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  9. 3 tablespoons rum
  10. 3 eggs, room temperature
MAPLE BUTTERCREAM
  1. 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  3. 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  4. 1/8-1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare two, 6-inch cake pans; grease well, and cut out round pieces of parchment paper that will fit at the bottom of each pan.
  2. Take two vanilla beans and split them both in half, scrap out the seeds and put in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer with whisks attached, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla till fluffy, about 2 minutes. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and add half of it to the butter mixture and add half of the milk also. Beat till just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Scrap down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula and add the other half of the milk and flour then add the vanilla beans and rum, beating till just incorporated, 20 seconds. Add the eggs, one at a time beating till each one is incorporated. Scrape down the bowl after each addition. After they're all added, beat the batter on medium speed till smooth, about 1 minute.
  4. Equally divide the batter amongst the pans, about two cups each pan and evenly spread around the tops.
  5. Bake for 28-30 minutes or until the cake springs back up after gently touching it. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then loosen the sides with a knife and flip onto a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.
BUTTERCREAM
  1. With an electric mixer with whisks attached, beat the butter and salt till smooth. Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla and beat for 4-5 minutes on medium-high until light and fluffy.
ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
  1. With a serrated knife, carefully even out the tops of each cake layer by cutting any dome that may have formed, off. Place the first layer on a cardboard cut out and add about 1 cup of frosting. Evenly spread the frosting around the top of the layer and place, making sure it's even, the second layer, bottom facing up. Add the remaining frosting all around the cake, with more on the top of the cake. Decorate with fresh flowers(optional, just for fun).
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