I have named you queen.
There are taller than you, taller.
There are purer than you, purer.
There are lovelier than you, lovelier.
But you are the queen.
Perhaps pumpkin is more traditional and chocolate more sexy, perhaps pie is expected and tarts would turn heads. But somehow this bundt cake with root vegetables baked into tall towers; this cake with cream cheese hiding in swirls along its center, convinced me that this was the perfect way to celebrate Thanksgiving, despite what everyone expected. So I gave in and gave thanks.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese
adapted from Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours and America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook 2011
1 cup whole wheat flour, plus a little more for the pan
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil [or olive oil]
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots (use the large holes on a box grater)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Position an oven rack to the middle and preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour the inside of an 8-cup fluted tube/bundt pan and tap out the excess flour.
Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine the maple syrup, sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of a standing mixer, and using a whisk attachment beat on high speed until the mixture has thickened slightly and is light in color, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer to low speed. Add half of the flour mixture, then the sour cream, and then the rest of the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix until the batter is just smooth. Remove 1/4 cup of the batter and set aside. Add the carrots and pecans, and mix until combined.
Pour half of the batter from the mixer into the prepared pan, and the other half into a clean bowl. Wipe out the mixer bowl, and return it to the mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, maple syrup, and vanilla on medium speed until smooth and light, about one minute. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved batter [without carrots and pecans] and mix until incorporated. Spoon the cream cheese filling evenly over the batter in the pan, trying to keep it away from the edges. Spread the remaining reserved batter over the filling and smooth the top. With a butter knife, gently swirl the filling into the batter using a figure-eight motion, but don’t drag the filling to the bottom or the edges of the pan. Firmly tap the pan on the counter to dislodge any bubbles.
Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely. Cake can be stored in the fridge for 2 days, wrapped in plastic wrap.
for the parsnip cake:
This cake is basically made the same, but for a few things:
In the cake: omit the cinnamon, pecans, and carrots, and substitute grated parsnips for the carrots. In the cream cheese filling: Add 1-2 teaspoons ground cardamom [I like a lot of cardamom, but if you want a very subtle taste, just use 1 teaspoon.]