Friday, September 3, 2010

Carrot Cake

I've been so patient. For weeks (maybe even months) I've grilled, sauteed, quickly pan-fried, or mostly made no-cook meals, just to avoid using my vintage oven. My oven is beautiful, but it radiates a massive amount of heat and it's just not possible to use in the midst of a hot summer.

Not that I'm complaining. At all! I have loved this summer's looooong heat wave immensely! But today the thermometer barely hit 60 degrees (after it was 93 on Monday!). And boy oh boy was I excited to come home tonight and bake a cake. A cake crammed with vegetables, no less! Vegetables picked, by me, from the muddy earth on a friend's farm in my hometown.

As a good blogger should, I researched to find the absolute best carrot cake recipe around. I googled. I searched Ina and Martha recipes. I looked in my hometown church cookbook, my grandma's church cookbook, Betty Crocker's cookbook, Orangette, etc etc etc. Do you know what I found out about carrot cake? Nearly every recipe has identical ingredients, but just in slightly different measurements. I take this to mean that it is pretty difficult to screw up carrot cake.

Of course you can bake this into a traditional 9x13 pan or even turn it into cupcakes. But since it's been so long since I've baked anything, I wanted to go fancy with layers and big swirls of yummy frosting.

I love how simple this recipe is. Especially if you have a grater attachment on a food processor so you don't actually have to grate 3 cups of carrots by hand. It's a one-bowl recipe, which your dishwasher will love. And, even though most recipes say to use a stand- or hand-mixer, it's not necessary (even for the frosting). Just stir with a sturdy wooden spoon or spatula to mix all the ingredients.

Carrot Cake (adapted from many different recipes)
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground or fresh grated nutmeg
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Prepare your pans (9x13, two 9" rounds, or cupcake tin) by greasing and flouring bottoms and sides. I did line the bottom of my round pans with parchment but if you grease and flour properly I don't think that's necessary.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees (my oven runs hot so I went a smidge less).

Whisk together all your dry ingredients in a big bowl. Then add your egg, oil, carrots, and nuts and mix to combine.

Pour mixture into pans and bake for 30 minutes, checking to see if cake is done by inserting a toothpick into the center. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. Cool cakes in the pan for 15 minutes.

Remove cakes from pan and cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from many different recipes)
2 (8 oz) packages room temperature cream cheese
1 stick room temperature unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Whip all ingredients together, either with mixer or spoon until creamy and spreadable.


  1. Carrot cake is my FAVORITE! (Cream cheese frosting is my FAVORITE, too!) :) I just found an unusual Moosewood recipe that calls for dried apricots . . . time to bake, I think!

  2. I read this post and thought, Yum! I'll have to make this sometime soon. And the very next day it showed up on my door step :)
    It was DELICIOUS!! Thanks for sending some our way!