Vegetables for Dessert! Carrot and Zucchini Cake

It’s here!  It’s finally here!  I’ve been waiting all winter and now the Farmer’s Market is back!!  Oh we had so much fun there this morning.  I bought all the tomatoes and strawberries and squash blossoms and carrots and spinach and I just love buying fresh vegetables right from the people who grow and pick them.  It makes me so sad for cities that don’t have these and all those people who live in food deserts.  I may live in a regular desert, but my town is cool enough to attract little farmers, and for that I am very thankful.

But because fresh ingredients, must use in everything!  So today, here’s a list of what I’m making:

-Carrot layer cake with cream cheese frosting
-Zucchini lime cake with cream cheese frosting
-Honey wheat bread (with local honey! Ooh!)
-Easy refrigerator dill pickles

All of these recipes are using the ingredients I got at the Farmer’s Market, and most were inspired by the fact that I knew I’d be able to pick up the ingredients there or by the ingredients themselves when I arrived at the market. E.g., I saw fresh dill and cucumbers and promptly freaked out that I would finally be able to make some decent homemade pickles. I just hope they’re salty enough. Or not too salty. . .

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Here’s a picture of the honey:

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The fella at the stand told us it was from Sedona (the next town down the highway) and that it had some ridiculous number of plants in it.  I heard 200 but I think that’s a bit much.  But definitely lots of pollen.  It’s the most gorgeous, deep dark color, too. Yum.

I’ve never made a carrot cake before, but a.) CREAM CHEESE FROSTING IS DA BESTTTTTTT and b.) the hardest part about this was either the carrot grating (I felt like a Neanderthal griping my sad little stick tool as I grated away, seemingly endlessly) or the cakes sticking to my meticulously non-stickified foil that covered my cooling racks.  Sigh.  On the bright side, I lost so much less of this cake than the last one!  Also, side note, I added a pinch of cardamom to the spice blend for this cake because I love cardamom.  It’s amazing and I can’t live without it and if I could add it to everything I would.

A few tricks that are super basic but do actually work and you should actually use them to avoid cake stickage or other hideous mishaps, as have happened to me in the past:

1. Do: put parchment paper at the bottom of your cake pans and ALSO spray it with non-stick spray.  This sounds obvious but I have skipped this step before and ended up having to fill in crater-like gaps in my cakes with frosting, creating an untenable if believable illusion of structure.

2.  Do:  Whenever I would transfer my cakes to the cooling racks I would get these obnoxious lines on my cakes, like grill marks, where the fresh cake had sat on the rack.  Not aesthetically pleasing, if not truly detrimental to the cake.  Plus then it would be hard to pick it up evenly, would always stick, and I always seemed to leave some behind, clinging sadly to the little metal lines.  SOLUTION: put foil on top and then spray it lightly with more non-stick spray.  The cake stuck wayyyyy less and was a lot easier to pick up than before.  Plus, another new tip: with the foil, when flipping the cake back over onto the correct side, you can fold the foil in half over the top and actually grab that cake full on without making a huge mess and flip it gently over!  No muss, no fuss, just perfectly flipped cake!  Hooray!

3.  Do: trim your cake.  Sigh.  I didn’t want to do it because who was I really making it super pretty for?  The stegosaurus on top already didn’t come out super great (who knew it was harder than it looks to put graham cracker crumbs inside a cookie cutter?), and I was annoyed at how dumpy the cake looked.  But then I thought, “to hell with it!” and did it anyway and ended up super proud of my effort.  Here it is!

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Plus, if you trim your cake AFTER frosting, then you get this amazing bowl full of cake and icing scraps.  Which is amazing and feels so naughty, like cutting class.  But instead you cut cake scraps to make it prettier.  Oh darn!  What a struggle.

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Lastly, the zucchini lime cake.  A note on the recipe: the lady who runs this blog lives in England (I believe) and so her stuff is all in metric.  Do your best.  I did a lot of fudging on this recipe.  I also added more lime juice to my frosting because it wasn’t popping enough for me.  Picture!  (Sorry it’s not very pretty. . .it was late and I was getting it ready for work the next day.)

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Here are the recipes I used today:

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2015/03/carrot-graham-layer-cake/

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2014/07/easiest-fridge-dill-pickles/

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/01/light-wheat-bread/ 

http://www.katieskitchenjournal.com/2013/07/courgette-and-lime-cake.html

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