A great, moist classic carrot cake that, along with Lawsuit Muffins, launched my baking career. The lemon-scented cream cheese icing covers a tall, California health food cafe style layer cake that is still exceptional. In my days as an underground baker supplying restaurants all over the city with this famed cake, I tinted extra cream cheese icing with enough cinnamon to make a cinnamon-hued decorator icing. Originally, this recipe was scaled up to make 50 cakes at a shot. I sold 200-300 a week! (and had the orange tinged carrot fingers to prove it)
1 1/4 cups oil
Zest of one orange, finely minced
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon orange oil or pure orange extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 (generous) cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup diced pineapple, well drained, optional
1/2 cup yellow raisins, plumped and well drained
1/2 cup dark raisins, plumped and well drained 3
3/4 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
Lemon Vanilla Soaking Syrup 1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Toasted slivered almonds
Leftover icing, tinted brown with cinnamon, for border
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease two 9 inch layer cake pans or one 10 inch springform pan. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
In a large mixer bowl, whisk together the oil and orange zest. Then add the sugar and eggs. Stir in vanilla, lemon juice and orange oil. In a smaller bowl, stir together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. Fold into wet ingredients, then add carrots, pineapple, raisins and walnuts, stirring well. Spoon into prepared pans.
Bake until cake(s) springs back when gently pressed - 60-70 minutes. Cool well. Then wrap gently and freeze 1-2 hours. For large cake, after freezing, split cake horizontally in two.
For the icing, in a mixer bowl, soften cream cheese and cream with butter. Stir in lemon juice, vanilla and citrus zest. Fold in confectioners' sugar to make a soft but spreadable icing. If it is too soft, add more icing sugar.
For the Lemon Vanilla Syrup, heat the sugar and syrup to gently boil, then simmer 5 minutes. Cool and stir in extracts.
Semi-freeze the cake to make decorating easier. Trim top crust of cake and disgard. Turn cake over so that flat bottom will ultimately be the top. Split cake in half horizontally.
Drench bottom generously with the Lemon Vanilla Syrup. Spread on about 1-2 cups icing. Place second cake layer on top and gently press. Smear or brush on more syrup around cake top and sides. Frost cake. On the top icing, smooth surface and garnish with ground nuts and cinnamon, and extra, hand-grated fresh carrots in the center. Mix some cinnamon into some leftover icing and then using a star tip, pipe a border around top edge of cake.
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