Dixie Classic Fair Recipe: ‘Best Carrot Cake Ever’

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Mary Cutler of Pfafftown won 1st place in this year's King Arthur Flour Great Cake Contest at the Dixie Classic Fair.

Here is the winning recipe for the Best Carrot Cake Ever:

Best Carrot Cake Ever

3 cups sugar
1 7/8 cup oil
6 large eggs
3 cups King Arthur Flour
3 tablespoons cake enhancer
3 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

Orange Curd:
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
3/4 cup extra fine sugar
3/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
4 ounces salted butter, chilled and cubed

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 (16 ounce) powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 1/2 tablespoons orange curd, optional

Carrot Ribbons:
6 carrots, peeled
2 cups sugar
1 cup water

Glazed Pecans:
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 9-inch cake pans.

For Cake: In large bowl, beat sugar and oil. Add eggs and beat well. Sift together King Arthur flour, cake enhancer, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into egg mixture mix well. Fold in carrots and nuts. Pour batter in pans, dividing evenly; bake for 35 to 40 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. Watch so that it does not get too done due to oven variances. Let cool in pan and then turn onto cooling rack.

For Orange Curd: Combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and orange juice in an 8 cup capacity microwave-safe bowl. Gradually add orange juice, whisking constantly with a balloon whisk until combined. Add the butter and stir to combine. Place bowl on a microwave-safe rack and cook, uncovered, on 50% power (1100 watt microwave), stirring every minutes, for 7 to 10 minutes or until curd is thick enough to coat a metal spoon. Refrigerate overnight before using. Keeps up to one week in refrigerator.

For Orange Cream Cheese Frosting: Combine cream cheese and butter, beating until smooth. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, orange zest and curd; beat until light and fluffy. Add additional powdered sugar to thicken/sweeten as desired. Makes enough to frost a 3 layer 9-inch cake.

For Carrot Ribbons: Cut carrots in half lengthwise. Using a vegetable peeler, make thin ribbons on carrot. Mix sugar and water and bring to a boil. Add carrot ribbons making sure all are covered. Simmer for 10 minutes. Cool and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Dry carrot strips before use.

For Glazed Pecans: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter and add brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Mix together well. Add pecans and stir to coat. Place on parchment paper. Bake about 10 minutes until nuts start to turn a deep golden brown and sauce is darkened and bubbly.

To Assemble: Stack first layer on platter, spread one cup of orange curd to 1-inch from edge of cake. Stack next layer and spread another cup of the curd to 1-inch of edge and top with last layer. Spread with orange cream cheese frosting and decorate with candied carrot ribbons and glazed pecans as desired.