When you imagine the perfect, relaxing day by yourself, what do you think of?
Maybe you would be fishing by the river, maybe you would be on the couch with a book and an endless pot of tea, or maybe you would go see back-to-back movies with a huge bucket of buttery popcorn all to yourself.
For me, a perfect day alone is spent in the kitchen, baking and decorating a beautiful cake. I take my time and do all the extra steps, and I take a step back to check my work as often as I like, with no rush to fill an order, and no pressure to be perfect.
This weekend I needed a little time for myself so, while the boys were out sledding, I made a lovely carrot cake with cream cheese frosting- just for fun.
Carrot cake and cream cheese frosting
2 ½ cups almond flour — the nutty flavor and texture of the almond flour is essential for this cake
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups grated carrot
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
½ cup sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts (plus some for decoration)
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Line your baking dish — I used a 10-inch springform pan, but any cake pan will do — with parchment paper, bottom and sides.
Sift together your almond flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk your eggs, melted butter, and extracts until the color has lightened slightly.
Combine the grated carrot, shredded coconut, walnuts and ginger and mix thoroughly.
Gently pour the egg and butter mixture into the almond flour and stir to combine.
Carefully fold in the shredded carrot blend.
Pour the batter into your lined pan and use a rubber spatula to smooth the top. The batter will be thick and sticky.
Tap the pan on the counter to force any bubbles to the top.
Baking time will differ depending on your pan. The 10-inch springform needed about 45 minutes. When the center of the cake is firm and springy, and when a butter knife inserted into the center comes out clean, the cake is done.
Allow to cool completely before wrapping in plastic and moving to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
While your cake is chilling, make the frosting.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
Switch to the whisk attachment, then very slowly add the powdered sugar in stages. Keep the mixer speed low unless you want a huge mess.
Add the almond extract and whip for an extra 10 seconds.
Move to a piping bag and chill for 30 minutes.
Cut the edges off the cake, then (if you are stacking) slice the cake horizontally into layers. I wanted a tall cake, so I cut the round into two half-circles then cut each in half horizontally to create four stacked layers.
Pipe or spread your frosting generously in between each layer, then on top and the sides to cover. You can smooth it as painstakingly as you like, or you can leave the outside plain to create a “naked” cake, which has been quite popular for a few years.
Top or line the sides with extra crushed walnuts.
Chill for at least 3 hours before serving. Serve cold.
Store covered in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Tressa Dale is a culinary and pastry school graduate and U.S. Navy veteran from Anchorage. She lives in Nikiski with her husband, 2-year-old son and two black cats.