Never have I ever….made a cake from scratch. Until now. It’s my birthday, which means time to celebrate!
I actually got this carrot cake recipe from a restaurant. Around last Thanksgiving, my family went out to dinner at Treadwell, which focuses on farm-to-table cuisine in the quaint little Canadian town of Niagra-on-the-Lake. For dessert I had an ridiculously delicious carrot cake, complete with candied carrots on the top, so I asked for the recipe. After converting some Canadian grams to cups and such, here you have it. Boy oh boy, does it taste amazing. (Still working on those candied carrots though.)
Yep that’s a cake on a pizza stone. Note to self: get a cake stand if you’re going to keep this up.
I also checked out Bon Appetit’s suggestions for baking a carrot cake. I learned a few tips and tricks, including the most important: finely grate the carrots. If you want the carrots to melt into the cake and seemingly disappear (instead of having stringy carrot bits) you need to use the smallest setting on your grater. I tried the grater attachment in the food processor in hopes of speeding up the process, but the carrot strips were still too big. So hand-grating it is. This is actually the most difficult part of the whole recipe in my opinion, so if you want to make it easier….make your husband do it. That’s what I suggest.
To make the batter, first beat together the eggs and sugar, and then slowly stream in the oil. In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients, such as the flour and the wonderful, wonderful spices. (I also added in ginger to the recipe because I love the flavor with carrot cake.) Mix the dry ingredients into the wet with a spatula, gently folding until incorporated. Then fold in the grated carrots. The key is to avoid over-mixing, or the cake may sink in the middle.
Line your cake pans with parchment paper for easy removal, and be generous with greasing the paper. I used PAM on my first cake batch (oh yes, we’ve been eating a lot of cake here) and I found that it left a slight crust on the outside, so I embraced the butter for the second try. Divide the cake batter into the two pans—which is easier when you put it all in a measuring cup and halve it. Then it’s time to bake. My cake took about 35 minutes; you can tell it’s done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Let those cakes cool completely. in other words, you can’t touch them for a couple hours. I know, pure torture. But that frosting should not go on a hot cake. Let’s turn to the cream cheese frosting, which I consider mandatory with carrot cake. I use the ratios that the original restaurant recipe prescribed, and don’t worry, it’s dairy-free, fat-free….no I am totally kidding. My birthday is one of those times when I don’t give two cents about sugar and butter ratios, because there is something big to celebrate. So I go all in on the cream cheese frosting too. It’s also easy to make a decorative topping by sprinkling chopped walnuts across the top (perhaps a few carrot shavings, and some fresh lavender too). I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. And please come over for some cake this weekend.
- 1 lb. carrots, finely grated
- 2 ¼ cups sugar
- 4 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 cups flour
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 16 oz. light cream cheese
- 1 cup butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Crushed walnuts, for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 9-inch cake pans with parchment and generously grease with butter. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs. Slowly stream in the oil.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and ginger. Use a spatula to gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in the grated carrots.
- Divide the batter evenly into the two cake pans. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place the cakes on a wire rack and let cool completely.
- To make the frosting, beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add in the vanilla, followed by the powdered sugar. Mix until smooth.
- To assemble the cake: once cooled, transfer one layer to a platter. Spread the top with about ¾ cup of frosting, and then place the second cake layer directly on top.
- Make a crumb coat by spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire cake, and then refrigerate for 20 minutes. Then spread the entire cake with the remainder of the frosting. Decorate if desired. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate.