Dear SOS: I'm hoping you can help me get a recipe. We went to the new Santa Monica restaurant Riva last weekend. Dinner was great, but I was particularly impressed by the carrot cake. Normally, carrot cake is dense, but this cake was light but still had that great carrot cake taste.
Rebecca Furman, Santa Monica
Dear Rebecca: This version of the classic cake incorporates no less than a pound of freshly grated carrots, making for a cake at once light in texture but rich with carrot flavor and bursting with color. Riva uses bread flour instead of cake flour to provide a firmer structure, offsetting all of those carrots. The cake is frosted with a fresh cream cheese frosting, which complements with a gentle tang.
Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus cooling and chilling times
Servings: 12 to 16
Note: Adapted from Riva. This makes 1 (8-inch) 2-layer cake.
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar, divided
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Scant 2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
1/3 cup dried currants or raisins
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 (8-inch) baking pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper and set the pans aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand-held mixer, whip the eggs and 1 cup sugar until the mixture is thick and light (ribbon stage), about 5 minutes.
3. With the mixer running, pour in the oil to incorporate and continue whipping until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and the remaining 1 cup sugar.
5. Using a whisk, add half of the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, gently whisking just to combine. Add the remaining egg mixture and whisk just to combine. Be careful not to overmix or the cake will not rise properly. Gently fold the carrots and currants into the batter with a spatula just until incorporated.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Bake the cakes on the same rack in the center of the oven just until set, 30 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway through for even cooking. A toothpick inserted will come out clean when the cakes are done. Remove the pans to a rack until cool before unmolding. While the cakes are cooling, make the cream cheese frosting.
Cream cheese frosting and final assembly
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cubed
1 pound cream cheese, cubed
5 cups (1 pound, 4 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand-held mixer, cream the butter until light and smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add the cream cheese and continue mixing until smooth. Scrape the sides of the bowl often to make sure the contents are completely combined.
3. Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla if using. Add the sugar in three stages, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl with each addition until the frosting is smooth.
4. Frost the cake then chill slightly to allow the frosting to thicken before serving.