Ultimate Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
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Last week I found a stockpile of carrots in the bottom left-hand drawer of my fridge. Before setting to work slicing and dicing, staining my cutting board, dulling my knife, and tearing up my uncalloused little hands, I paused for once and used my little brain.
Out came the shredder attachment to my Cuisinart and in about 30 seconds, this gadget had transformed my pound of carrots into perfect little shreds. I didn’t even peel these guys. Just gave them a good scrub, and sent them down the shoot. Magic.
With prep work done, I set to work on a carrot cake recipe I have had saved for years. It appeared in Fine Cooking magazine in 2004 in an article called “Carrot Cake, Perfected.” Why I have waited five years to give the recipe a go is beyond me, but I am so happy I finally have. This recipe is a winner.
Mini spring-form pans filled with batter (at left) and baked (at right).
The pizza guys at Izza, a new San Clemente pizza joint.
This past Wednesday, Ben and I celebrated our four-year anniversary by eating our favorite food on the planet … pizza pizza. Izza, a thin-crust, wood-fired, Neopolitan-style pizza place opened its doors just in time for us to celebrate our happy day. The pizza was fabulous, our server was adorable, and the vanilla gelato was heavenly. We couldn’t be happier with this addition to the San Clemente restaurant scene. Well, if they added a white clam pizza to their menu, I might be slightly happier, but maybe in time that will come.
Source: Fine Cooking Magazine Article: “Carrot Cake, Perfected” by Gregory Case
Note: I have made some modifications to the original recipe. To read the original, click here.
For the cake:
- Softened butter and flour for the pan
- 1 lb. carrots
- 10 oz. (2–1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. table salt
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1–1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
For the frosting:
- 8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and completely softened at room temperature
- 1 lb. cream cheese, cut into pieces and completely softened at room temperature
- 4–1/4 oz. (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
Make the cake:
- Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9×13-inch heavy-duty metal cake pan or two 8-inch round cake pans
- In a food processor, using the shredder attachment, shred the carrots. Transfer to a small bowl and rinse the food processor bowl (you’ll need it again).
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Whisk to blend thoroughly.
- In the food processor (again use the steel blade), mix the eggs and sugars until blended. With the machine running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream until combined. Scrape this mixture into the flour mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to combine. Add the carrots; stir to combine.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared 9×13-inch pan or divide the batter among the two 8-inch pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes for the 9×13-inch pan, about 30 minutes for the round pans. Let cool on a rack to room temperature before inverting the pan to remove the cake. Let cool completely.
- If you baked round pans, halve each one crosswise to make 4 round layers total.
Make the frosting:
- Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (a hand mixer works, too). Beat the butter on medium speed until it’s quite light, fluffy, and resembles whipped cream, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese one piece at a time, beating well after each addition. When all the cream cheese is incorporated, reduce the speed to medium low and gradually add the sugar and vanilla, stopping the mixer each time you add the sugar. Mix just enough to remove any lumps; scrape the bowl as needed. If the frosting seems a bit loose, refrigerate it for a few minutes until it seems spreadable.
Frost the cake:
- If using a 9×13-inch pan: Scrape about two-thirds of the frosting onto the center of the cake. With a narrow metal offset spatula, push the frosting from the center out to and just over the cake’s edges. Spread with as few strokes as possible to prevent crumbs from catching in the frosting. Cover the top of the cake first then use the remaining frosting along with what’s creeping over the edges of the cake to cover the sides.
- If using round pans: Set one layer on a plate or cake platter. Top with one quarter (roughly) of the frosting, spreading to cover. Top with another layer of cake and repeat this frosting-spreading-layering process until each layer of cake has a nice layer of frosting.