Notes from the Test Kitchen:
Wow - this one is three tiers of decadence! It takes a little work and planning to get it finished but it's so worth it. Your guests will be very impressed when you serve a slice of this delicious cake.
dark raisins; boil raisins about 15 minutes in boiling water until plump and drain and place on paper towel
1FOR CHEESECAKE: Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan and wrap the outside with heavy duty foil (making sure it is waterproof).
2Combine one package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup of sugar, and the cornstarch in large bowl and beat on low until creamy (about 3 minutes) scraping down the bowl a couple of times.
3Blend in the remaining cream cheese one package at a time scraping down the bowl after each addition.
4Increase mixer speed to medium and beat in the remaining 1 cup of sugar, then the vanilla.
5Blend in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each.
6Beat in the cream just until it's completely blended, be careful not to over mix.
7Gently spoon batter into the foil-wrapped springform pan and place it in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about 1" up the sides of the springform pan.
8Bake at 350 until the edges are light golden brown and the top is golden tan, about 1 1/4 hours.
9Remove the cake from the water bath. Transfer to a wire rack and cool in the pan for 2 hours.
10Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while still in the pan for about 4 hours until completely cold. I put it in the freezer about one hour before I assemble with the carrot cake and slide a long frosting spatula under it. Dip it in hot water first then dry it off or hold the cake over very low heat and remove with a spatula.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
12Generously butter the bottom and sides of three 9-inch round layer cake pans (you’ll need three layers, two for the cake and one to break into crumbs for the top). Very important: Line the bottom of all three pans with parchment or waxed paper (don’t let the paper come up the sides).
13Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda together in a medium sized bowl 2 or 3 times. Set aside.
14Place the raisins in a small saucepan, cover them with boiling water, Cover the pan and let soak until nice and plump, about 15-20 minutes. Drain well and let stand on paper towels.
15Beat the eggs in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high until light yellow, about 5 minutes.
16With the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar. Then slowly drizzle in the oil. Then the cream and vanilla. When the batter is light golden and airy, it’s ready (this usually takes a total of 15-20 minutes of beating).
17Stir in the flour mixture. Then stir in the carrots, apples, walnuts, and raisins.
18Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans and bake until the centers spring back when lightly touches and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out with moist crumbs, about 45 minutes.
19Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Then turn them out onto the rack and peel off the paper liners. Let the cakes cool completely, about 2 hours. Then wrap each layer in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Beat the cream cheese and butter together on high speed.
21Add the sugar then the vanilla. With the mixer running, gradually add the cream. Beat until frosting looks whipped and creamy.
Place one layer of the carrot cake on a large oversized cake stand. Frost the top of the first layer then add the cheesecake and do not frost the cheesecake but add the second layer of carrot cake on top of the cheesecake.
23Then frost the two layers of carrot cake with the cheesecake in the middle.
24Frost top and sides of cake; then coarsely crumble the extra layer and use for garnish on the top and around the bottom of the cake on the cake stand. I don't use all of the 3rd layer for garnish, it is just too much. So sample it with a little of the frosting.