Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cake of the Week: Zingy Orange Ginger Cake with White Chocolate Frosting

Orange zest.
Candied ginger.
White chocolate.

It may sound like a bizarre shopping list, but trust me – this cake is actually one of the best flavor combinations I’ve ever encountered. I made it for a house dinner a couple weeks ago and it was perfect.

Dear Zingy Orange Ginger Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Frosting,
You complete me.

I live in a group house with anywhere from 2-8 housemates. Mine is the basement apartment, and I love my cozy cave! It’s comfortably messy, with a red couch and art exhibit posters on the walls. And most importantly it’s all mine. Fabulous.

Between all the ridiculousness that I do, and my various housemates’ crazy schedules, we don’t always see each other very often. So every once and a while I emerge out of the depths and climb a few flights of stairs – baked goods in hand and happy to share! 

I made this cake for a house dinner (I’ll post my mac and cheese recipe later this week).  It’s nice to sit down together and catch up and enjoy something delicious. And of course dessert is high on my menu planning priorities.

I saw this cake on Sweetapolita and there were no questions – it had to happen. She promised a “boarderline religious” cake eating experience, and I have to say, this cake delivered! The cake itself is super flavorful and not too sweet. I adore candied ginger and it adds a nice chunky chew to the carrots. (Gushing alert - what can I say? It was that good!) And the frosting is beyond. It’s definitely on the super-sweet side of things, but balances nicely with the spicy cake.

Make it for your housemates, your family, your friends, yourself. You won’t regret it!

Zingy Orange Ginger Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Icing  (from Sweetapolita)
5 cups (1.25 L) grated carrots
1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped crystallized ginger or stem ginger in syrup (surprisingly cheapest at Whole Foods - look in the produce or bulk buying sections)
1 orange
2 1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger
1 cup (250 mL) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
2/3 cup (150 mL) milk

White Chocolate Frosting
1 cup (250 mL) butter, at room temperature (I did 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup cream cheese.)
6 squares (6 oz/175 g) white chocolate
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
3/4 tsp (4 mL) almond extract
Generous pinch of salt
3 cups(750 mL) sifted icing sugar (aka powdered sugar)
2 tablespoons water or milk, as needed

Chopped crystallized ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C). Spray or lightly oil two or 3 9-inch (1.5-L) round cake pans.
2. Grate carrots using a food processor. Measure out 5 cups (1.25 L). Finely chop ginger. Grate peel from orange. Set aside separately. Place flour in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ginger. Stir until blended. Sprinkle in orange peel while stirring.
3. Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat on medium for 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, then vanilla. Don’t worry if it seems curdled. Beating on low, gradually add about a third of the flour mixture. Beat until just mixed, followed by half the milk. Repeat additions, ending with flour. Sprinkle chopped ginger and stir to distribute. Stir in carrots.
4. Divide batter between pans. Spread as evenly as possible to sides of pan. To remove air pockets, bang pans on counter 5 to 6 times. Bake until centres seem set when lightly tapped, 30 to 35 minutes. Place on a baking rack to cool. After about 15 minutes, turn cakes out of pans and cool completely on racks. It’s best to bake cakes a day ahead of icing and leave at room temperature overnight.
5. To make frosting, beat butter in a bowl with an electric mixer until very creamy. Place chocolate in a small microwave bowl. Microwave on medium for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir, then microwave on medium for another minute. Stir until smooth. Or on stovetop heat chocoolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir, often. Gradually beat into butter. Add vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Gradually beat in icing sugar. If your frosting is too thick, add the water or milk until it reaches a spreadable consistency.
6. To assemble, palce 1 cake, flat-side up, on a platter.Generously spread with icing, leaving a narrow border of cake around the edge. Top  with the second cake, flat-side down, and gently press down. If doing 3 layers, repeat. Smoothly spread frosting over the sides of the cake, then the top. Garnish top of cake with chopped  crystallized ginger. It’s best to refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving.

We didn't refrigerate the cake before eating, which is why the slices came out kinda messy...but the next day it cut very easily and cleanly. I recommend taking the cake out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving so the frosting can come to room temp (and therefore be softer and creamier). Yummmm!