I love carrot cake. Besides my mom’s famous chocolate chip bundt cake, her other most requested cake was carrot cake. It was chock full of walnuts and raisins and it was thankfully without pineapple. I love pineapple but it’s my strong opinion that it doesn’t belong in carrot cake. Unfortunately, my mom also didn’t believe in frosting. Her carrot cake was baked in a bundt pan (of course!) and served up plain. It was delicious, but I’m almost ashamed to admit that I was 30 before I had my first taste of carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting. And it is a perfect pairing, obviously.
So when I went to make my birthday cake last month, I had a huge hankering for carrot cake. Unfortunately, I don’t have my mom’s original recipe, so I used one from the Miette Bakery cookbook and it was fantastic. Also, just look at how pretty the cookbook is. I love the scalloped edges and all that pink!! This is a small cake and I liked that. It’s baked up in a 7 inch cake pan and in this 2 person household it’s good to not have a big old cake hanging around for days. We had a couple of friends over to share and we got 8 healthy servings out of it. If you don’t have a small cake pan, bake up some cupcakes instead or use a loaf tin instead and adjust the baking time accordingly (meaning, uh, watch it after 20-25 minutes or so).
The cake itself got rave reviews. The crumb was moist and tender with a nice outer crust. I added cloves, nutmeg and cardamom to the original recipe for a cake that had just the right amount of spice. It’s also full of goodness from the grated carrots to the toasted walnuts, currants and coconut. You could almost think of this as a healthy dessert. Well, almost.
It made the perfect birthday cake even though I did have a few lumps while baking. Though you can’t tell from the photos, my cake fell in the middle and I’m not sure why. No matter, that is what frosting is for – it covers a multitude of sins! My frosting was a little lumpy because I didn’t sift. Don’t be like me. Just sift! Another issue was that the frosting was a little runny. I frosted it at room temperature when it should have been chilled down for a bit in the fridge. No matter, because it looked gorgeous with its painterly drips. A happy birthday cake indeed!
(recipe adapted from the Miette Bakery cookbook)
1 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
1/8 t ground cardamom
1/2 t kosher salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 c sugar
3/4 c vegetable oil
1 c peeled & grated carrots
1/2 c currants
1/2 c toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 c shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut
Butter and flour a 7″ round cake tin, tapping out any excess flour. Preheat oven to 350F.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt.
In your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on (or use a hand mixer), combine the eggs and sugar until well combined and lightened in colour, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and slowly drizzle in the oil until well combined and then whisk on high to emulsify. Switch to the paddle attachment and add in the dry ingredients in three additions, beating on medium until smooth. Add in the carrots, currants, walnuts and coconut and stir to combine. Pour batter into your prepared cake tin, scraping out the bowl with a spatula.
Bake until the top of the cake is a golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Transfer cake to a wire rack to let cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run an offset spatula (or a butter knife) along the edges and then invert cake onto a rack to cool completely.
cream cheese frosting
If there is one thing I hate, besides pineapples in carrot cake, it’s sifting. But you just got to do it because no amount of whisking will remove all the powdered sugar lumps. Sifting, just do it.
1 c cream cheese (low fat is fine), room temperature
1/4 c + 2 T unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c sifted powdered sugar
1/2 t vanilla
pinch of kosher salt
In a large bowl, mix together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add in the cream cheese along with the vanilla and the pinch of salt and mix throughly until fluffy. Cool in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to firm up the frosting. Frost cake once cake is completely cool.