Monday, April 5, 2010

lemon-ricotta tart and carrot cake

Don't you just love Easter baking? Hot cross buns, European Easter breads with eggs baked in the middle, Easter Pie, Carrot Cake... I know I couldn't hold back from baking two different desserts for the holiday.

I first started with a classic Carrot Cake. This is Anna Olson's recipe printed in a bulk barn flyer this year. I'll post the recipe because if it was published in a flyer it should be OK for me to share on my blog of all 5 readers.

Anna Olson's Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
3/4 c vegetable oil
3/4 c golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 c pure maple syrup
1 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 c grated carrot
1 c golden raisins

1/2 c cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c icing sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease an 8 inch square pan. Whisk together oil, brown sugar, eggs and maple syrup. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger and stir into wet mixture to blend. Stir in carrot and raisins and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 to 30 minutes, until tester inserted in center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before icing.
To prepare frosting, beat cream cheese and butter together. Beat in icing sugar until smooth and stir in vanilla. Spread over cooled cake and store chilled until ready to serve.
Makes one 8-inch square cake. Serves 12 to 16

I had my reservations about baking this recipe only because I always stay true to form in baking with unsalted butter as the main fat and this calls for vegetable oil. I realized that pretty much all carrot cake recipes call for oil and the reason is because it works! Cream cheese icing completes it, but I always keep it optional because... well you know, I don't like icing. You know what's extra great about carrot cake? You can pretend it's the same as a carrot muffin so you have an excuse to eat a slice for breakfast!

I couldn't let the holiday go by without bringing the Everyday Food book into play. My mom said that she needed a dessert contribution to Easter dinner so I made the Lemon-Ricotta Tart.

Criminally easy. I don't feel like there is any challenge in baking in this book. Which in a way is nice - minimal effort, maximum flavour and little room for any errors.

So rich and creamy (even using light ricotta and light cream cheese) and not overly sweet! I'll make both of these recipes again and again.

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