Carrot Cake Recipe
Moist, dense, rich and heavily spiced this Classic Carrot Cake Recipe is destined to be a crowd pleaser.
Although it takes some time this is really easy to make and is my second most requested cake. I have made two so far this year but I should warn you… this recipe is quite traditional and includes cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and ground cloves.
I don’t want to “yuck your yum” but life is too short for carrot cake made without real spices and homemade cream cheese icing!?!? Am I right? NOTHING says regret like ordering that expensive slice of artificially flavored carrot cake made with imitation vanilla icing!!
Also, sorry… but no pineapple or shredded coconut in this recipe. I do LOVE coconut and Coconut Cake is the single most requested cake I get but I just can’t do coconut with my dessert vegetables!
This cake also has a tiny bit of applesauce and brown sugar which I think gives the cake a bit of an edge when it comes to taste, and of course…… it is topped with classic rich cream cheese icing and toasted pecans!
It all starts with the shredded carrots.
I shred mine using a box grater but you can also use a food processor if you prefer. The recipe calls for 2 cups of shredded carrots which ends up being about 4-5 large carrots. Your biceps will get a workout!
Next up… the spices….ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves!
For the icing…softened cream cheese, butter, vanilla, a splash of heavy cream and confectioners sugar.
Also…warm toasted pecans….Preheat oven to 300 degrees and toast chopped pecans on parchment paper or a silicone baking mat for 8 minutes.
STEP 1….MIX TOGETHER WET INGREDIENTS
In a large bowl mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs (add one at a time) oil, vanilla and applesauce until combined and smooth. I mix by hand but you could do it with a mixer on low speed.
STEP 2…WHISK TOGETHER DRY INGREDIENTS
Next whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
STEP 3….Pour WET INGREDIENTS into bowl with DRY INGREDIENTS and using a whisk gently mix together.
STEP 4…Fold the carrots and 1 cup of pecans gently into the mixture using a wooden spoon.
Pour/spoon evenly into two greased 9 inch cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean.
Ok let’s make the tasty homemade cream cheese frosting…
In a large bowl using a handheld mixer (or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment), beat the softened cream cheese and butter together on medium speed for about 2 minutes until smooth.
Making this frosting can get a bit tricky…The key here is to MIX TO THE DESIRED CONSISTENCY!
You do not want to dump in all the sugar and all the heavy cream mix and hope for the best!
You must combine the softened cream cheese and butter together first for two minutes on medium speed and then slowly add the confectioners sugar 1 cup at a time until fully combined with the already mixed cream cheese and butter.
After the sugar is incorporated add 1 tablespoon of cream and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla (the good stuff) and beat for an additional two minutes.
If it is too thin add more sugar. If it is too thick add a tiny amount of heavy cream until you reach desired consistency. If you dump all 3 tablespoons of cream in at once you will have a nice bowl of soup.
TIPS (MAKING MISTAKES SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO!)
- Bake the cake layers and prepare the frosting 1 day in advance and assemble the next day.
- Store the pre-made cake layers covered tightly at room temperature.
- Store the pre-made frosting in air tight glass container in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Finished frosted cake should keep for 3-4 days in refrigerator
- Frosted or unfrosted cakes may be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in fridge and allow to come to room temperature for best flavor.
- Cool the unfrosted cakes in refrigerator for up to 15 minutes before attempting to frost
- When making the frosting MIX TO DESIRED CONSISTENCY. Alternate adding confectioners sugar if too thin OR heavy cream if too thick.
I really do recommend making the cakes and frosting in advance and assembling the next day.
- FOR CAKE
- 3 cups of CHOPPED PECANS
- 1 and ½ cup of PACKED DARK BROWN SUGAR
- ½ cup SUGAR
- 1 cup VEGETABLE OIL
- 4 LARGE EGGS
- 1 teaspoon PURE VANILLA EXTRACT
- ¾ cup of UNSWEETENED APPLESAUCE
- 2 and ½ CUPS of ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
- 2 teaspoons BAKING POWDER
- 1 teaspoon BAKING SODA
- ½ teaspoon SALT
- 1 and ½ teaspoon GROUND CINNAMON
- 1 teaspoon GROUND GINGER
- ¼ teaspoon GROUND CLOVES
- ¼ teaspoon GROUND NUTMEG
- 2 cups of GRATED CARROTS (4-5 large carrots)
- FOR FROSTING
- 16 ounces of REGULAR CREAM CHEESE (SOFTENED)
- ½ cup of UNSALTED BUTTER, (SOFTENED)
- 2-3 tablespoons of HEAVY CREAM
- 1 teaspoon PURE VANILLA EXTRACT (get the good stuff!)
- 4 cups of CONFECTIONERS SUGAR
- pinch of SALT
- TOAST PECANS
- Preheat oven to 300 and toast CHOPPED PECANS on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Toast for 7 to 8 minutes remove from oven and allow to cool
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray two 9 inch cake pans with non stick spray and set aside
- MIX WET INGREDIENTS FOR CAKE
- In a large bowl, whisk together granulated white sugar, dark brown sugar, eggs (one at a time), oil, applesauce and pure vanilla extract until combined. It should be smooth with no lumps. Set aside.
- MIX DRY INGREDIENTS FOR CAKE
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.
- MIX WET INGREDIENTS AND DRY INGREDIENTS TOGETHER
- Pour the wet ingrdients from bowl #1 into the dry ingredients in bowl #2 and mix until just combined.
- Fold in the carrots and 1 cup of the toasted pecans.
- Pour or spoon batter evenly into prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until inserted toothpick in center comes out clean.
- Cool cakes completely in the pans on a wire rack
- Place cooled cakes in fridge for 10 minutes before you frost cakes
- MAKE FROSTING
- In a large bowl using a handheld mixer (Or stand mixer with paddle attachment) beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium for approxiamately two minutes until smooth.
- Slowly add the confectioners sugar one cup at a time until incorporated with already mixed butter and cream cheese. Add 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of vanilla and beat and additional two minutes on high. If too thin add a tiny bit of sugar and if too thick add a tiny bit of cream until desired consistency is achieved. If too sweet tasting add a smidge more of salt.
- ASSEMBLE CAKE AND FROST
- Using a serrated knife layer off the top of the cake to create a flat surface.
- Take first layer and put on cake stand and evenly cover the top with forsting. Top with second layer and spread remaining frosting over top and sides
- Decorate the top and sides with the remaining toasted pecans using your hands to press them into the frosting.
- ENJOY ENJOY ENJOY!!!