Memorial Day weekend. A day to celebrate and remember. The unofficial start of summer. And a time to have a poolside BBQ where you can see the varying degrees to which your friends react to the late-May LA sun. I’m personally sporting a gnarly racerback tank tan on my back. I will be spending my summer Fridays trying to even it out.
How have I gone this long without experiencing the unadulterated bliss that is the triple berry shortcake from Sweet Lady Jane? I’d never even heard of this charming little gem of a bakery until earlier this year.
I had the task of ordering one of my boss’s SO’s birthday cake from SLJ and was instructed to get the “berry cake.” After a quick scan of their website and not finding something with that exact name, I call and order “the berry cake.” They knew exactly what I wanted.
After further investigation, I come to find that this evidently is THE cake to eat. I heard nothing but rave reviews for this cake , but I still wasn’t convinced. I haven’t been much of a fan of fruit in cakes (or fruitcake, for that matter). But the hype most certainly lived up to exceeded my expectations.
$7.50 for the gargantuan slice of heaven=so worth it. The 3 berries (blackberries, strawberries and raspberries) are so fresh and mouth-wateringly sweet. The whipped cream is perfection. And the cake. Oh sweet, sweet shortcake. It has the same buttery flavor of pound cake, but with a fluffier consistency between angel food cake and regular cake. Which pretty much means this cake is phenomenal. I am head-over-heels in love with this delectable cake. If I could eat this everyday for the rest of my life, I would be one “berry” happy girl.
Ok. It was more like 6 carrots total, but “6 carrot cake” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
I made the trek back home for Easter weekend to fulfill my daughterly/sisterly duties to see my family. And to see this face:
and use this phenomenal appliance:
Jealous doesn’t even begin to describe my affection towards my mom’s kitchen. The counter space is at least 20 times more than mine (and that’s not a hyperbole. I literally work with roughly 2 feet x 2 feet of counter space.) And she has the one kitchen appliance I’ve been lusting after for years. It’s only obvious I had to make something and use this kitchen. I had 2 factors in my decision: must use the Kitchenaid mixer, and (try) to make it Easter themed. Bunnies eat carrots. Frosting is ridiculously fun to make in a stand mixer. Done and done. Say hello to Alton Brown’s carrot cake recipe.
The ingredients lined up and ready for some mixing:
Another oh so neat appliance my mom has is this mighty little device called a SaladShooter. I would have been shredding carrots by hand for hours if it wasn’t for this beauty. I just chopped up the carrots and stuck them in the machine and literally within seconds, it shoots out perfectly shredded carrots:
Giving the batter a few final mixes:
While the cupcakes were baking away, I got to play with the mixer and make the frosting:
The walnut-free batch of cupcakes:
And the (better) batch with walnuts:
The dishful thinker’s tips:
- The baking time is for a full cake. Since I was making cupcakes, I attempted to adjust the cooking time accordingly, but unfortunately ended up with a little overbaked and slightly drier than I would have liked cupcakes. I’m going to have to keep fudging with the time, but let’s just say if you make cupcakes out of this recipe, cook it for less than 35 minutes at 350°.
- I’m not a fan of refrigerated cake or cupcakes, but you’ll want to put up with that if you want to avoid food poisoning. Since the frosting is made with real cream cheese and there aren’t any preservatives in it, err on the side of food safety and keep ‘em cold.
- Some people like walnuts and some people don’t. Make it easy to distinguish which have nuts by topping them with a single piece of walnut. Added bonus: it makes them look pretty:)
- While I’m on the topic of walnuts…the recipe actually doesn’t include them. But it’s really not that difficult to toss some in. Add in whatever your heart desires. Go “nuts”!
- I really have no idea what I would do without the SaladShooter. I wonder if they sell pre-shredded carrots. They should, right?
- Unsalted butter, for the pan
- 12 ounces, approximately 2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
- 12 ounces grated carrots, medium grate, approximately 6 medium
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 10 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/3 cups
- 2 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup firmly packed
- 3 large eggs
- 6 ounces plain yogurt
- 6 ounces vegetable oil
- Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour a 9-inch round and 3-inch deep cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
Put the carrots into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add this mixture to the carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour.
In the bowl of the food processor combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt.
With the processor still running drizzle in the vegetable oil. Pour this mixture into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cake reaches 205 to 210 degrees F in the center.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan. After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces powdered sugar, sifted, approximately 2 cups
In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter on medium just until blended. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the speed on low, add the powdered sugar in 4 batches and beat until smooth between each addition.
Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using.
Yield: approximately 2 cups
Let me start out by saying that I am completely obsessed with these cakes. They may be mini, but they certainly pack in a punch or two (or three…) of flavor in a light and fluffy cake. My sister-in-law sent me this recipe via a fellow food blogger, The Pioneer Woman Cooks (btw, I am insanely jealous of the Pioneer Woman’s kitchen…and camera). Ever since I read this recipe a few weeks ago, I have been dying to try these out in my own kitchen. The idea intrigued me. Using olive oil in a cake batter? An herb in a cake? Is this one of those “so weird it’ll all somehow work amazingly well together” recipes? I answer with a resounding YES.
Beautiful and oh so fragrant fresh thyme:
The ingredients lined up and ready to go:
The thyme thrown into the dry ingredients looks like sparse green plants buried in a snowstorm:)
I think I overfilled the muffin pan with too much batter…
Yep. Look at all the extra cake around the edges:
But not to worry. With a bread knife in hand, I sliced off the bottoms (or tops?) of each cake:
Glazed and garnished:
Up close and personal:
The dishfulthinker’s tips:
- I need to brush up on my knife skills. Chopping up already tiny pieces of thyme is time consuming and those little suckers get stuck all over your hands. I just pulled them off the stems and threw them into the mix.
- A mini bundt cake pan isn’t necessary (unless you really want that shape, then by all means knock yourself out). I just used a standard muffin pan and flipped them upside down (and sliced off the excess cake to get a flat bottom).
- I had to use about a tablespoon more of lemon juice in the glaze to fully thin it out.
- An added bonus to this recipe is that you likely have most of these ingredients already on hand. All I needed to pick up was a few lemons and the thyme (oh yeah, and a small bottle of whole milk. I’ve never been able to drink this stuff, so I didn’t have this in my fridge).
For the Cakes:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh thyme, plus sprigs for garnish
For the Glaze:
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Prepare the cakes: Brush a 6- or 12-cup mini Bundt or muffin pan with the melted butter. Lightly dust with flour and shake out the excess.
Pulse the granulated sugar and lemon zest in a blender until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, then gradually pour in the olive oil and milk, pulsing until emulsified into a thin batter, about 30 seconds. Don’t overblend or the cakes will be too puffy.
Whisk 1 cup flour, the baking powder, salt and 1 teaspoon thyme in a small bowl. Add to the blender in 2 batches, pulsing lightly until just combined; stop to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cakes just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and spring back when lightly touched, 28 to 30 minutes for a 6-cup Bundt pan and 22 to 25 minutes for a 12-cup Bundt or muffin pan. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then loosen the sides with a small knife and invert the cakes onto a rack.
Meanwhile, prepare the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and butter until smooth, adding more lemon juice if the mixture is too thick. Drizzle over the warm cakes and garnish with thyme sprigs.