From the cookbook Twelve Recipes
We're avoiding new cookbooks these days like Kimmy Schmidt is avoiding her past.
Mostly we're out of the cookbook game because we're waaaay overdue for a cookbook clean-out. Truly, we are running out of places to put them and our shelves are overflowing, with books starting to accumulate on the floor. [#CookbookProblems]
But when a friend, who is paring down her own cookbook collection, offered us a copy of Twelve Recipes, the new cookbook from Chez Panisse chef Cal Peternell, we readily took it off her hands. Twelve Recipes showed up in a number of food magazines last year, and we were eager to check it out.
It wasn't just the Chez Panisse connection that intrigued us, although we do love Chez Panisse.
It was the concept of this book that had us hooked: When his oldest son is about to go off to college, a chef pulls together the 12 basic recipes that are enough to get anyone started in the kitchen.
The book, of course, has far more than 12 recipes, but it does provide 12 basics and then many variations on those (Pasta with Tomato becomes Summer Marinara, Arrabbiata, Puttanesca, and on and on).
We read through the book this past weekend, and though there are lots of recipes we wanted to make, we decided to start with a Simple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.
If you go into The Bitten Word Wayback Machine, you'll see that we last made a carrot cake in our very first year of blogging in 2008, making what we deemed The Perfect Carrot Cake from the Gourmet cookbook. If memory serves, we ate so much of that cake for so many days that it nearly made us sick. We loved it, we've made it a half dozen times since, and we're always quick to recommend it.
We're referring to this as a Simple Carrot Cake because it's like a scaled down version of that favorite recipe. There are fewer ingredients, and you can more easily make this one as just one layer. It's an extremely manageable cake recipe, even for a beginner baker.
But Twelve Recipes isn't just for beginners (although it will quickly become our most recommended cookbook for new cooks). Seriously, every cook has something to learn from this book. There's a chapter on boiling vegetables that actually has us excited about the idea of boiling vegetables (and has anything ever sounded more boring that boiled vegetables?).
Anyhow, the recipe: It's a great carrot cake. The recipe makes a one-layer cake with enough frosting to generously cover the top (we didn't try to ice the sides, because Clay was taking this cake to work for his office's March Bake-o-Lution; we had decided to cut the cake into small squares for easier transport and serving).
The carrot cake has just the right amount of denseness for us; it tastes like it's packed with goodness, but isn't overly sweet. The icing, similarly, is on the lighter end of sweetness, which was just fine with us.
Make a carrot cake this spring, either with our Perfect Carrot Cake or this more pared-down but delicious version.
And by all means, pick up a copy of Twelve Recipes. We think you'll love it!
FOR THE CAKE
Oil or butter, for the pan
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown (lightly packed) sugar
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 pound carrots, grated
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup raisins
Grease an 8- or 9-inch cake pan with a little oil or butter and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and when completely blended, stir in the carrots, walnuts, and raisins. Pour into the prepared pan, put in the oven, and start checking for doneness in 35 minutes; the cake should be done at around 45 minutes.
Cool for 30 minutes, then run a table knife around the edge of the pan, top with an upside-down plate, and invert the pan so the cake falls onto the plate. Let cool completely and then frost.
FOR THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar (or more if you want it very white and sweet)
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the butter and cream cheese until they begin to get fluffy. Add the remaining ingredients and whip until smooth. Frost the cake whole, or cut into layers and frost in between if you want. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.