There are a million carrot cake recipes out there, and honestly as far as I’m concerned there isn’t really such a thing as bad carrot cake, ha! This one by the iconic Dorie Greenspan though, is a *fabulous* carrot cake.
Over the years I’ve tried many recipes. For years I used a great one I had gotten from a coworker way back when. But a couple of years ago I found myself thinking it was a bit difficult to work with because the layers didn’t always hold together (I think it was designed to be in a sheet pan).
So I sleuthed around in my dozens of cake cookbooks and online and found a recipe that I thought looked likely to work better. It was very similar to the one I loved, with a few small ratio differences. And boom, bang ta-da! The perfect carrot cake. I love it so much and I hope you will too!
what to add?
Now for the controversial bit: the add ins! Lots of strong feelings surround this issue but my house is firmly Put Everything In. Pineapple (I use frozen rather than canned), raisins (golden), nuts (these gorgeous pecans or walnuts, from Braga Organic Farms), coconut. Chuck it all in there. Yuuuummmm.
I don’t only love eating this though, I love making it because it’s so lo-fi. No mixer required which feels very slow food movement 😉 homey and old fashioned. And it makes the house smell divine.
Whisk up the dry ingredients, and in a separate bowl combine the carrots, nuts, pineapple and raisins.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk up the sugar and oil until smooth, and add the eggs one at a time. Mix well after each egg.
Gently and carefully fold in the dry ingredients.
Fold in the chunky bits. Pour into your prepared pans (see my quick and easy way) and bake.
For frosting, it’s obviously gotta be cream cheese. The classic recipe is 8oz cream cheese to one stick butter and about 3 cups of powdered sugar (and a bit of salt and vanilla). That works great if your cake won’t be sitting out on display.
For me though, it’s way too soft to use between layers. They say to add sugar to thicken, but that makes it way too sweet for me, so I actually use about 3 sticks of butter to each 8oz block of cream cheese. That makes it lovely and creamy, but you don’t get as much tang which is obviously a problem. I have a solution. Now stay with me because this will sound weird: a few drops of white balsamic vinegar (I know). I can’t remember where I first saw this idea years ago but it’s fab. Adds a subtle tang- you just have to be super careful not to overdo it.
Combine in mixer with paddle attachment until smooth:
- An 8oz block of cream cheese (when I use brands other than Philadelphia, it turns out even softer so I always use that), at room temperature
- 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- about 2 1/2 cups (adjust to your taste) powdered sugar and
- a dash of salt
Mix thoroughly, and add:
- 1 tsp vanilla
- a few drops of white balsamic vinegar. To make sure I don’t add too much, I pour into a spoon first and dribble it in. Taste as you go.
At this point I usually switch to the whisk attachment and whip it up until it’s fluffy. I truly love this stuff!
Click here for some fun and easy ideas for the finished look of your cake.
fabulous carrot cakeCourse: DessertDifficulty: Easy
I think this is the ultimate carrot cake!
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups grated carrots (you can grate the carrots in a food processor fitted with a shredding blade)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened
1/2 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola or safflower oil
4 large eggs
- Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour 3 9” round pans.
- Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, nuts, coconut and raisins.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and oil until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, continuing to whisk. With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the flour mixture-mix only until the dry ingredients disappear. Just as gently, stir in the chunky ingredients.
- Divide the batter among the pans and bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans top to bottom and back to front at the midway point. The cakes are properly baked when a knife inserted into the centers of the cakes comes out clean. Transfer the pans to cooling racks, cool five minutes, then turn out onto racks and cool to room temperature. (At this point, the cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months; thaw before frosting.)
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