Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011: Pumpkin Pie and Carrot Cake

Where to begin.

I guess I should start by accepting the award for Worst Food Blogger Ever, since I'm just now posting the desserts I made for Thanksgiving... three days too late for you to make them. I guess you can just consider these early for next year.

Ohwait. Did I say the same thing last Thanksgiving?

Happenings of Thanksgiving 2011:

1. My longstanding annoyance toward making pie intensified. I started baking at around 7 p.m. on Wednesday and didn't finish until 2 a.m. 2AM!!! All because of the stupid* pumpkin pie and its burnt gingersnap crust, followed by pie dough sticking to everylastthing, and topped off by pumpkin filling splashing all over my oven.

burnt crust!

*Please note that this is my second choice of all potential adjectives to describe that pie. I wouldn't want to use my first choice and have my classy lady status revoked.

2. I made the best carrot cake everrr. Which almost made up for the horrific pie episode. Almost.

3. I saw Arthur Christmas on Thanksgiving night, which turned out to be the first (new) Christmas movie I've truly enjoyed in the past several years. I laughed out loud on several occasions! That said, A Charlie Brown Christmas will always be my favorite.

4. After the movie (around 11:30 p.m.), my dad, my sister, and I were going to stop at Starbucks. That is, until we saw the 20+ cars lined up in the drive-through. Cars filled with crazed, pepper-spray-wielding Black Friday shoppers no doubt.

5. I volunteered to work at 3:45 a.m. on Friday. At the mall. To be honest? I was disappointed. I had hoped to experience the madness of Black Friday for the first time, but it turned out that all the really intense shopping happened between 10 p.m. and midnight.

Instead, I sat at my kiosk and observed mall people for four long hours.

I judged their fashion choices. (Only about 25% of people were wearing real pants. One person was wearing a brown suit, complete with top hat).

I considered suicide as an alternative to listening to the Hickory Farms guy shout "You folks care for a sample?" overandoverandover while furiously shaking his container of mint meltaways.

And I listened (against my will) to two of my fellow mall workers debate the relative superiority of the Cowboys and the Seahawks. And when I say debate, I mean "smugly repeat the same point over and over until one of them gave up."

6. After my exhilarating Black Friday experience, I went home and slept for six hours. Which completely threw off my circadian rhythm. I'm still recovering.

Pumpkin Pie
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

For the filling:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
3 eggs
2 cups (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 & 1/4 cups half & half

For the crust:

Pie crust


1. In a large bowl, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, salt, and spices. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, and half & half until thoroughly combined.

2. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk together until smooth.

3. Prepare the pie crust dough. Roll it out into a 13" circle and transfer it to a 9-inch pie pan. Trim off any excess dough and crimp the edges. Chill the piecrust while the oven preheats to 400°F. I'm not providing instructions for making the pie crust because I had a really hard time with it. I recommend that you follow King Arthur Flour's instructions, use your favorite recipe, or buy a refrigerated pie crust at the store!

4. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the filling is set two inches in from the edge; the center will finish cooking as the pie cools.

Makes 1 pie, 6-8 servings.

Carrot Cake with Coconut, Raisins, and Walnuts
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

For the cake:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups carrots, grated
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup coconut, shredded
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

For the frosting:

1 & 1/2 cups cream cheese, softened
1 cup + 2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
9 cups powdered sugar


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Coat three 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick spray and coat each pan with flour.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. In a separate bowl, stir together the carrots, walnuts, coconut, and raisins.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar and oil at medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Reduce the mixer speed to stir and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated. Add the carrot mixture and mix until evenly distributed.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. While the cake cools, make the frosting. Beat the cream cheese and butter at medium-high speed for about two minutes. Add the vanilla and beat one minute more. Reduce the mixer speed to stir and add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Once all of the sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about two minutes, or until the frosting is light and fluffy.

6. Assemble the cake. Stack the cake layers on top of each other, adding a generous layer of frosting between each layer of cake. Cover the top and sides of the cake with frosting as well. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. For detailed instructions on assembling a layer cake, please visit this post.

Makes 1 three-layer cake, about 10 servings.

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