slightly adapted from Food & Wine
For the cake
- 1 cup pecans, or nut of choice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded
For the frosting
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- Three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tablespoons maple extract
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- pinch of salt (I used fleur de sel)
For the white chocolate ganache
- 12 ounces white chocolate, chopped fine (don’t use chips)
- 4 ounces heavy cream
- Preheat your oven to 325°. Butter three 8-inch cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment. Butter the paper and flour the pans, knocking out as much excess flour as possible.
- Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes, until fragrant. Cool and finely chop.
- In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, buttermilk, maple extract, and vanilla. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or stand-mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in the liquid ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in the carrots and pecans. Divide the batter between the pans and bake the cakes for 30 to 40 minutes, or until springy and golden. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then unmold the cakes and let cool completely. You can pop them in the fridge or freezer if you’re in a hurry.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese at high speed until light, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, maple extract, maple syrup, then the confectioners’ sugar; beat at low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. For even coverage, put about 3 cups of the frosting into a large piping bag. Otherwise, just plop the frosting onto the cake as you wish. You should have plenty of frosting leftover to frost the outside and top of the cake.
- Peel off the parchment paper and invert one cake layer onto a plate or cake board. Spread with a slightly rounded cup of the frosting, or use the piping bag to create an even layer by starting in the center of the cake and swirling around until you reach the edge of the cake. Top with the second cake layer, right side up. You can spread a thin layer of frosting on the outside of the cake to make a “crumb coat”. Chill the cake until the frosting sets up, about 20 minutes. Then spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting and refrigerate the cake until chilled, about 1 hour.
- To make the ganache, heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan or microwave until really hot. Pour the hot cream over the finely chopped white chocolate. After about 2 minutes, gently stir until combined and smooth. Immediately pour the ganache on the center of the cake and let it drip down the sides. You may not use all of the ganache, it’s up to you. Refrigerate the cake so that everything sets up, about 30 minutes.
- Slice and serve.