I’m terrible at keeping birthday gifts secret. When I come up with a gift idea, I burst with anticipation to share it! Although I still have a few travel stories to tell, I must interrupt with this cutest little birthday cake I made for M. My original plan was actually much more elaborate. It involved setting up a candle lit white tablecloth dinner of three-course home cooked meal. I even made the potato & leek soup and bought the smoked lamb chops. But the complexity of bringing my own table and chairs was a bit too much and I had a last minute change of plan.
Why would I even consider BYOT(able) and BYOC(hairs) too much trouble? After all, I did all that not too long ago. Yesterday I had a minor operation to remove an adventitial bursitis from my ankle. The surgery went well but I was reeling from the aftermath of sedative on my way home. I am not the type to sit still but I try not to hobble around the house too much. I really want to give the ankle its best chance of recovery. Au lieu of romantic dinner at home, it will be Cuban restaurant and attending a friend’s album launch at a club.
The one thing that I cannot compromise is birthday cake. I planned for this back in September when I found out M’s love for carrot cake. Last year, I unknowingly made a decadent chocolate layer cake because…who doesn’t like chocolate cake? Apparently M doesn’t but I did not find out (accidentally I may add) until recently. I was determined to make the best carrot cake for him this year.
The good thing about cake is that it doesn’t need to be made last minute. In fact, most of the components should be made ahead of time before putting them all together. The night before surgery, I worked frantically in the kitchen to make sure cake, frosting, and garnishes were all ready for assembly.
I had my eyes on Joanne Chang’s classic carrot cake (recipe) from her cookbook Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe. How could I not with those whimsical swirls of candied carrots beckoning in the picture? The recipe was surprisingly simple. Typically carrot cake is made using the quick bread method and the result can be a bit dense. I was particularly happy with the extra lightness that whipping eggs with sugar added to the cake. When the two 5-inch mini cakes came out of my oven, they had completely level tops and rose by 30%.
The recipe was originally written for one 8-inch cake but the cream cheese frosting was enough to cover two 5-inch cakes easily. I candied the carrot strips with some heavy syrup leftover from candied orange peels. I rolled the pliable carrot strips around the pointy tip of a wooden chopstick before setting them on paper towel to absorb some of the extra syrup. They look absolutely adorable.
I assembled the cake with one foot all bandaged up after I returned home from the hospital. I really didn’t want to stay on my feet for too long and that was one good incentive for me to work quickly. Besides, frosting small cakes is infinitely easier than a big one.
Tonight we will celebrate. In case you’re wondering why the bunny got stuffed inside a brandy snifter…only because it fit. And made me smile.
Love more carrot cakes? Here ya go:
- Mango Coconut Carrot Cake
- Carrot Banana Bread with Maple Yogurt Frosting
- Itty Bitty Carrot Cake Cookies
- Carrot Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting