Last weekend we were having dinner with our friends Adam and Eleanor who were married in Georgia this past May. We were recounting how much we enjoyed their wedding and I mentioned how Adam had been at our wedding and Eleanor asked how long Michael and I have been married.
“12 years,” I replied.
“13 years,” said Michael simultaneously.
Some quick math proved it was in fact 12 years ago. October 18, 2003 was a day filled with family and friends and lots of love. We danced to ‘Be Mine’ by David Gray at the reception and the wedding party convinced the bartender to serve shots of tequila in coffee cups. We had a beautiful carrot cake that I recreated for our 10th anniversary. I’d been wanting to bake a naked cake for a while and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
This carrot cake recipe is my new favorite. It calls for 4 ½ cups of carrots, which equals a lot of carrots. I shredded them by hand with a box grater for optimal texture and there are now little flecks of carrot all over my kitchen. It was worth it, though. This cake also contains no raisins or pineapple or coconut, which is fine with me. I’m not crazy about dispensable fruit in my carrot cake. It does call for pecans, which I wholehearted endorse, however you could sub for walnuts. The real twist here is in the frosting, which is flavored with tahini. If you’ve never worked with tahini before, buy a jar, make this cake, then make some homemade hummus, then make this pumpkin bread from Dula Notes, which is genius. You could of course use a classic cream cheese frosting and you could also frost the entire cake, but I really love the rustic ‘naked’ look.
This recipe will make a 4-tier 6-inch cake, but I only wanted 3 layers, so I used the extra batter to make a dozen cupcakes.
Naked Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Tahini Frosting
Original recipe from Butter and Brioche
For the carrot cake:
3 cups all purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
3 tsp baking soda
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
6 large eggs, room temperature
2 ¼ cups white sugar
2 ¼ cups vegetable oil
4 ½ cups shredded carrots
1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans
For the cream cheese tahini frosting:
8 oz room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup tahini sesame paste
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line 3 x 6 inch cake pans and set aside.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together into a medium bowl.
In a separate large bowl, beat together the eggs set on high speed until foamy. Gradually beat in the sugar and continue mixing until thick and light in color, about 3 minutes. Slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil. Take your time with this. You’re looking to create an emulsion with the egg mixture and oil. This process took me about 6 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Mix in the dry ingredients in three additions until smooth and combined. This is a bit of a thick and sticky batter. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the carrots and pecans.
Divide the batter equally between the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes (took me the full 35). Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack to let cool completely.
While the cakes are cooling, prepare the frosting. Put the cream cheese, butter, tahini and salt into a standing mixer (or use a handheld mixer) and whip on medium speed until creamy and smooth. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and combine well. Reduce the mixer speed and slowly add in the confectioner sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Stop occasionally to scrape down the bowl. Once all the sugar has been incorporated, increase the mixer speed back to medium and whip for 2 minutes, or until very fluffy.
Trim the cooled cake tops to level. Place one cake layer on cake stand. Spread with desired amount of frosting – I used about 1 ½ ice cream scoops per layer. Repeat this process with the second layer. Finally, place the third cake layer trimmed side down and frost the top and sides of the whole cake to desired coating. Chill the cake for at least 1 hour before serving.