Friday, April 5, 2013

Carrot Cake

There's nothing like grating a pound of carrots by hand to make you wish you had a food processor. 
I can't believe that with all the baking and cooking I do, I still don't have one.
Thankfully, my birthday is coming up and I just might be getting one.  Any recommendations on brand and size?

Well, even with all the time and effort those carrots took, this cake was totally worth it.

I love carrot cake....I really do.  Although I am always drawn to chocolate first, whether in a restaurant or at home, when I take that first bite of carrot cake, I'm hooked.

Quick side story: When Grant and I were on our honeymoon (nearly 12 years ago) in Montana, Grant ordered  Huckleberry Carrot Cake at a Mexican restaurant...(you can pretty much get huckleberry anything in Montana...yum!) and it was so amazing.  I wish I could re-create that.  

I know there are some definite preferences when it comes to carrot cake - whether or not to add pineapple, raisins, nuts, and coconut.  Some recipes use jarred carrot baby food, some cook the carrots and puree them, and most just use grated carrots like this one.
I'm not going to say that this is the BEST carrot cake, because that is completely subjective and I haven't tasted all there is out there, but I will say that this is pretty wonderful.  Even Grant enjoyed it tremendously, and he is rarely crazy about desserts without chocolate.

I took a recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, which I'm sure is marvelous exactly as written, and changed it up a bit to make it slightly healthier and added some pineapple and coconut.  I substituted 1/2 cup of applesauce for 1/2 cup of the oil, which lightened up the calorie count a little but still left the cake moist and delicious.  Oh, I also upped the powdered sugar called for in the frosting because my frosting was just too runny - maybe my butter and cream cheese were too soft.  Even with an extra cup of powdered sugar, the frosting was still soft and was certainly not too sweet, so I think it worked out fine.  My changes are reflected in the recipe.  

I added some chopped toasted walnuts (was out of pecans) to the top of half of the cake for my extended family - my own kiddos and Grant don't like nuts on baked goods.

The cake brought rave reviews by everyone who graced our table on Resurrection Sunday - my parents, sister Anna, brother Joseph, and his girlfriend Ginny.....not to mention my own crew.

I can't wait to make it again....once I have my food processor!

Carrot Cake
(adapted slightly from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)

2-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1-1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1-1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. carrots, peeled and grated (should be about 3 cups)
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup oil (I used expeller-pressed coconut oil)
1/2 cup applesauce
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup shredded  coconut (I used sweetened)

2 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese, room temperature
10 Tbsp (1 stick plus 2 Tbsp) butter, room temperature
2 Tbsp. sour cream, light or regular
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3-1/4 cups powdered sugar
Chopped toasted walnuts or pecans for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a large bowl.  Set aside.  Shred carrots in a food processor or by hand.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a large bowl and using a hand-held mixer), beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds.  Reduce speed to medium; with the mixer running, add oil in a slow steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl.  Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to a minute longer.  Turn off mixer and stir in carrots, pineapple, coconut, and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for about 32 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then invert them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
(At this point, once the cakes are cooled, they can be wrapped in plastic wrap and put in a ziploc bag and placed in the freezer for up to 2 months.  Thaw at room temperature before frosting.)

When the cake is cool, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla at medium high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer until well combined.  Add powdered sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute.

I decided to torte the layers, just for do so, carefully cut each cake layer in half using a large serrated knife.  It's totally not necessary, I just like the look of extra layers.

Frost and eat!

I stored the cake in the refrigerator but allowed it to come to room temperature before serving.


  1. What a beautiful cake! I do love a piece of carrot cake. I also love my Kitchen Aid Food Processor, I use it daily. My girls have Cuisinart and they all like my Kitchen Aid better.

    1. Thanks for the input! I was thinking about Cuisinart because I love my ice cream freezer from them...but I also love my Kitchen Aid I probably could do well with either.

  2. I made a carrot cake for mix. You put me shame! lol!
    Great job! I'm inspired to make a real carrot cake =D

  3. I just made a homemade carrot cake from scratch last week too and I also thought it was worth it! Mine was just one layer but still good. I will have to try this recipe one time! It looks amazing!


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