As we all know by now, I love my Dorie cookbook. I also love reading other food blogs and looking at the accompanying pictures. So about a month ago, I noticed that many of the food blogs I was regularly reading were joining a group called Tuesdays with Dorie (“TWD”). TWD is a group of bakers who make one recipe a week from Dorie’s cookbook (a different person chooses the recipe each week) and all post their results on their food blogs on, you guessed it, Tuesday! As I said, I’ve been intrigued for a while now but finally just decided to take the plunge and join the group myself last week. I’m very excited to be a part of the group and to make my way through Dorie’s cookbook!! Be sure to check out some of the other bakers at TWD – there are some really amazing blogs!!

This week’s recipe was chosen by Amanda of Slow Like Honey: Big Bill’s Carrot Cake! I was excited that this would be my first recipe as part of TWD. I’ve made layer cakes before and while I certainly need to improve, at least it wasn’t completely foreign to me. I ran into a problem with one of my layers and it broke when I took it out of the pan. That in turn resulted in my cake looking like the leaning tower… Next time, I would also make additional frosting. While I (barely) had enough to frost between the layers and on the top (like the picture in the book), I definitely didn’t have enough to do the sides. I wasn’t originally planning to frost the sides, but after I saw how lopsided my cake was, it would have been nice to have the option. In any event, I didn’t try any of this cake, but everyone who did has really enjoyed it! So much in fact, that I’m feeling some remorse at not having tried it. Oh well….guess that just gives me an excuse to make it again sometime! (Since I didn’t try the cake and gave it away, I don’t have pictures of the inside of the cake but there are plenty of them over on the blogs at TWD…)

Big Bill’s Carrot Cake
from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (I skipped these)
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

To make the frosting:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.
If you’d like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To assemble the cake:
Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.