Maple Candied Bacon Carrot Cake

After a summer of barbecues and picnics, one dish in particular stands above and beyond all others: Maple Candied Bacon Carrot Cake. This knockout will leave your guests begging for more. Serve as dessert or breakfast.

INGREDIENTS – FOR THE CAKE

• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
• 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 3 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup water
• 2 cups carrots, peeled and shredded on a box grater or in a food processor
• 2 cups of maple candied bacon bits (below)

INSTRUCTIONS – FOR THE CAKE

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Butter three 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with buttered parchment paper then dust with flour, tapping out excess.
• Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger and nutmeg.
• Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat 3 minutes. Add vanilla, water, and carrots. Beat until well combined, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture, then maple candied bacon bits (save a handful to sprinkle over the icing).
• Scrape batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen, and turn out cakes onto rack. Turn right side up, and let cool completely.
• Using a serrated knife, trim rounded top of 2 cakes. Place one trimmed cake, cut side up, on a serving platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with second trimmed cake, cut side down. Spread 1 cup frosting over cake. Top with remaining cake. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides. Gently press remaining maple candied bacon bits onto the top of the cake. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

INGREDIENTS – FOR THE MAPLE CANDIED BACON BITS
• 1/2 lb. top quality bacon, sliced
• 2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
• 1/8 c. brown sugar
• 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
• 1/8 tsp. Kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degree.
Wrap a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a wired baking rack.
In a large bowl, mix well all the ingredients save the bacon.
• Add the bacon to the bowl and toss gently with your hands. Make sure that all of the slices are evenly coated.
• Place the bacon in a single layer onto the wire rack.
• Bake in the center of the oven for about 30-35 minutes, until slightly dark (not burnt) and crispy.
• Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
• Once cool enough to handle, break the bacon into small chards.

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