In my book, carrot cake is the under-appreciated gem. Somehow it got the reputation of being outdated; I’m guessing that has something to do with the sickeningly sweet store-bought options. But I’ve always had a soft spot for it since that was the flavor of my parent’s wedding cake. To be honest, though, I’m not even sure they loved it that much–maybe they just had fewer options. So I made it a little mission to perfect the recipe with a heavy hand on cinnamon and sans nuts or raisins. I played off the recipe listed below and added a garnish of spiced nuts. So, forks up to changing the carrot cake perception!
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
1 lb. finely-grated fresh carrots
(optional: 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts and/or 1/2 cup raisins)
3 (8 oz.) bricks cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
6 cups powdered sugar (or more if needed to thicken)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Or alternately, you can use two 9-inch round baking pans. (Just be sure that every square inch of the pans greased and coated in flour so that the cake does not stick!)
2. In the bowl of a large stand mixer, mix together oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined and smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and mix until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves) until combined. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the mixing bowl, and beat on medium-speed until just combined, scraping down the pan at least once to be sure that everything is well mixed. Then fold in the grated carrots by hand, and stir until combined. If you would like to add nuts and/or raisins, stir them in at this time as well.
4. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Then bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Remove pans and let them cool on a wire rack until the cakes reach room temperature.
5. I then like to pop them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to cool off slightly. Then remove them and use a large knife or a cake leveler to level off the domed tops of the cakes so that they are level and even.
6. Layer the cakes with the cream cheese frosting, and then frost the outside of the cake as you desire. Serve that day or store, covered, for up to 4 days.
1. Using an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter on medium speed for 1 minute or until smooth with no lumps remaining. Add in vanilla extract and salt, and continue mixing until combined. Lower speed to medium-low and gradually add in powdered sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until combined.
2. If frosting is too thick, you can add in a teaspoon or two of water. If it is too thin, you can add in more powdered sugar.