When I was a kid, I thought carrot cake was super gross. Now I know better. It’s not scary at all; it’s just a really pretty orange spice cake with cream cheese frosting.
I grated a pound of carrots. (While grating, I wondered why the YMCA doesn’t have a carrot-grating class, because it wore my arms out.) Anyhow, I grated them really teeny so that they wouldn’t be weird and crunchy in the cake, but dreamy instead.
I got the grating done Friday night so my Saturday morning cake-baking would be a breeze. Oh, and please don’t say that the batter looks like tomato soup … even if it does. Because mostly it’s just carrot-y goodness. What’s the batter with that?
I didn’t want to mix nuts, raisins or any other nonsense in the actual cake. Instead, I kept it real, by incorporating these things in other ways. I sprinkled chopped walnuts in between the cake layers. The walnuts really like hanging out with the frosting.
I don’t like raisins straight-up, but I really love yogurt covered raisins. So, I opted to put them to work as a cake border, or accessory. They also really like hanging out with that cream cheese frosting.
I topped this cake with candied carrot asterisks … or you can call them flowers, or even pinwheels. Basically they are pretty cute.
Do me a favor, though, you guys and give carrot cake a chance. It’s scrumptious and a total hottie. I had no idea for too long!
Recipe adapted from my mom + Zoe Bakes
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 t cinnamon
- 1/4 t ginger
- 1/4 t cloves
- 1/4 t nutmeg
- 1 t baking powder
- 2 t baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups canola oil
- 1 t vanilla
- 1 lb or 3 cups finely grated carrots
between cake layers + garnish -
- walnuts / pecans
- additional carrots sliced like asterisks
- yogurt covered raisins for no snacking while decorating
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottoms of three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper (stick it to the already sprayed cake pan) and spray with cooking spray again.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, spices, baking powder and baking soda.
- In a medium bowl, Beat together the sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla. Pour over dry ingredients and beat just until mixed. Fold in the carrots.
- Divide evenly between the cake pans (about 497g each) and bake for 25-30 minutes rotating half way through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool on wire rack, then place the cake layers in the freezer on the wire rack (or plates) for about 30 minutes to make assembling easier.
Swirly, twirly cream cheese frosting love.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe adapted from my mom + Zoe Bakes
- 12 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 1/2 sticks (12T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 t vanilla
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- zest from half an orange (optional, but recommended)
- Beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar until fluffy and incorporated. Add orange zest and mix it in thoroughly.
Cut wedges into the carrots, slice them up, and magic happens!
Candied Carrot Asterisks
Technique from The Kitchn
- a carrot or two cut into thick coins or asterisks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- Heat water and sugar in a small sauce pan. Add the carrots and cook over medium heat. Simmer until they are your desired texture.
- Scoop them out of the sugar water and set on a wax paper-lined baking sheet to cool. Top the cake!
P.S. Not all of them survived the candying experience. It’s a shame, really.
Candied carrots get even orange-er, so that’s fun, right?
Assemble: Remove the cake layers from the freezer and if needed, trim the tops of the chilled cake layers so that they are even and flat. Place one layer on your stand/plate with bits of parchment paper underneath to keep the stand clean. Frost the bottom layer. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Top with the next layer and do the same. Top with the final layer and do a quick crumb coat. This means, frost it thinly not worrying about crumbs (like below). It’ll catch all the crumbs in this layer making your top coat of frosting really pretty.
Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or more. Then frost it for real! Remove the bits of parchment paper. Top it with candied carrots and yogurt covered raisins. Pour leftover walnuts around the bottom edge of the cake stand. (I learned about cake assembling from Smitten Kitchen. Check out her post here for more tips and photos.)
What up, walnuts-between-the-cake-layers and piece that was bigger than I realized.