Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The Commissary's Carrot Cake
From: The Commissary Cookbook
So, once upon a time in Philadelphia, there was a restaurant called The Commissary. Their carrot cake was famous. People still talk about it, even though the restaurant is long gone. If you search the interwebs for the best carrot cake recipe out there, you will probably find at least a few people talking about the Commissary carrot cake.
Two years ago a friend mentioned to me that he really likes carrot cake, and asked if I had carrot cake on my agenda any time soon. I didn't, but I remembered the request, and when that person's 40th birthday came around a few weeks ago I made this cake for him. It's not SO different from any other carrot cake recipe, but it is very tasty and delicious. The cake itself is very moist and flavorful, and the pecan filling and cream cheese frosting are the perfect complements. Of course, my supervisor Karen (who gives me all the best baking recipes) directed me to this recipe, and she makes it without the pecans and just uses more cream cheese frosting as the filling instead of the pecan cream, so you could do that too and Karen assures me it is still delicious without the nuts.
The only change I made was to slightly alter the cream cheese-butter ratio, based on the suggestions in the comments. (This recipe was published by the author of the Commissary cookbook, who was the owner of the restaurant, so this is the original recipe, not someone else's attempt to recreate it).
Do Ahead: This cake is most easily made if you start it at least a day ahead, since the filling, for one thing, is best left to chill overnight. In fact, the different components can all be made even several days in advance and stored separately until you are ready to assemble the cake.
Pecan Cream Filling
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups corn oil (I used canola)
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups grated carrots (about a 1-pound bag)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup raisins
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces soft unsalted butter
12 ounces soft cream cheese
1-pound box of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces shredded, sweetened coconut (1 1/2 cups)
1 Make the filling: In a heavy saucepan, blend well the sugar, flour, and salt. Gradually stir in the cream. Add the butter. Cook and stir the mixture over low heat until the butter has melted, then let simmer 20-30 minutes until golden brown in color, stirring occasionally. Cool to lukewarm. Stir in the nuts and vanilla. Let cool completely and then refrigerate, preferably overnight. If too thick to spread, bring to room temperature before using.
2 Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°. Have ready a greased and floured 10″ tube cake pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the corn oil and sugar. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift half the dry ingredients into the sugar-oil mixture and blend. Alternately sift in the rest of the dry ingredients while adding the eggs, one by one. Combine well. Add the carrots, raisins, and pecans. Pour into the prepared tube pan and bake for 70 minutes. Cool upright in the pan on a cooling rack. If you are not using the cake that day, it can be removed from the pan, wrapped well in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature.
3 Make the frosting: Cream the butter well. Add the cream cheese and beat until blended. Sift in the sugar and add the vanilla. If too soft to spread, chill a bit. Refrigerate if not using immediately, but bring to a spreadable temperature before using.
4 Assemble the cake. Preheat the oven to 300°. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until it colors lightly. Toss the coconut occasionally while it is baking so that it browns evenly. Cool completely. Have the filling and frosting at a spreadable consistency. Loosen the cake in its pan and invert onto a serving plate. With a long serrated knife, carefully split the cake into 3 horizontal layers. Spread the filling between the layers. Spread the frosting over the top and sides. Pat the toasted coconut onto the sides of the cake. If desired, reserve 1/2 cup of the frosting and color half with green food coloring and half with orange. Then decorate the top of the cake with green and orange icing piped through a 1/16” wide, plain pastry tube to resemble little carrots. Serve the cake at room temperature.