Sunday was my 31st birthday! For the past few years, I've been making my own birthday cake. It's a selfish thing on my part. I enjoy making them but I don't have many opportunities to bake one: there are only two of us living in this house and I really don't want to be responsible for eating half a cake on my own. I only break them out when I know I'll have a lot more help eating them! My birthday is one of those times when I'm guaranteed a captive audience, as it were.
It also doesn't hurt that my husband is really indulgent about handling plans for the rest of the meal as well as the clean-up. There are not many times when I can just spend an afternoon baking a huge sweet and not have to participate in cleaning up my mess.
So this year, just as in the two preceding it, I made myself a big, sticky, delicious carrot cake.
If I had to choose a favorite type of cake, there would be a lot ties and everyone would get a participation trophy. But among the top contenders carrot cake has a good position with its rustic, toothy texture, its amazing flavor, and that cream cheese frosting. I've tried out a few recipes over the years but after coming across the "Best Carrot Cake" by Southern Living, my search was over.
The cake is baked in three layers. While baking, you make a buttermilk caramel sauce on the stove which is poured all over the cake layers when they come out of the oven. After cooling, you frost and stack the sticky layers and decorate as you see fit.
My only changes: the cake recipe includes pineapple chunks. I am one of those people who are really sensitive to the texture of my foods and pineapple chunk is just not something I want to encounter while eating my cake. However, I love the flavor so I run the pineapple through my food processor. Also, the cake calls for canned coconut, an ingredient which isn't available around these parts. I subbed in about 3/4 cup of sweetened flake coconut.
This year I garnished the cake with candied carrot curls, also a Southern Living invention. They were a little labor intensive but fun and tasted like a Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean version of Fruit Rollups.
Want to make one, too? Here are all the links to the recipes I used to create this cake: