One of my all-time favorite desserts is Carrot Cake. And though the cake itself is sweet and delicious on it’s own, it’s really just a vehicle for us to consume delightful fluffy cream cheese frosting, right? Mmmm. And with three layers of cake and frosting, it’s the gift that keeps giving…all weekend long? There’s half a cake left in my fridge right now.
Make it for Sunday night dessert, create mini cup-cakes for your child’s playgroup, dip your finger in the frosting for an afternoon sugar rush. This recipe is a crowd pleaser.
And today, Lucy and I are baking a cake together. So let’s get started!
2 – 4 carrots
1/2 cup oil
Heat the oven to 350º (turn it to 325º if using a non-stick pan or a glass pan).
Grease a 13×9 pan (or 2 to 3 round pans)
NOTE: I don’t believe in nuts and raisins in Carrot Cake. I think it ruins the bite. But if you like them, throw them in the mix!
Grate 2 – 4 carrots. Measure 2 cups of loosely-packed carrots (don’t cram the carrots into the measuring cup) and set them aside.
(ask Lucy to take a picture of you in the process. Our little photographer is improving).
Prep your “buttermilk”. If you ever have a recipe that calls for buttermilk, you can create an easy substitute by mixing 1 cup of milk with 2 tsp vinegar. Mix and let it sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients:
(Lucy realizes that vinegar is stinky, but still fun to stir).
In a large bowl beat the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla together until light, about two minutes.
Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk to the creamed mixture. Beat for another two minutes.
Stir in the carrots.
(the mixer is noisy.)
Pour into a 9×13 pan and Bake for 33 – 40 minutes or just until the center springs back when lightly touched. Cool on a wire rack before frosting.
For a layered cake:
Grease three 9-inch round cake pans. Cut three 9-inch circles of waxed paper and place in bottom of each pan. Pour evenly into the three pans. Bake at 350º for 18 – 25 minutes or just until done. Place pans on wire racks and cool for 20 minutes.
For mini Cupcakes:
Prepare recipe above, use candy-cup wrappers for cupcake holders (found in the candy making aisle at Michaels and other craft stores), and pour appx 1 Tbls of batter into each cup. Bake 7-9 minutes.
Since my little helpers are too antsy to wait for the cake to get out of the oven, I usually bake a few mini-cupcakes first. Immediate returns. All you need is one tablespoon of batter (and a steadier hand than me, spilling everywhere while trying to take a picture)
Bake them for 7-10 minutes, cool, and snack away.
I usually leave them unfrosted and the kids don’t seem to notice.
In fact, this usually happens:
While the kids are munching, get your cake in the oven,
Start cleaning up around the kitchen,
and prepare your frosting!
(for a Layered Cake, double the recipe)
I’ll be making a layered cake but I didn’t have 3 round pans, so I chose to bake the cake in a jelly roll pan (fancy word for a really nice cookie sheet) and cut out three circles from the finished cake. I usually place my cake in the freezer for 10 minutes or so, so that it’s nice and firm before I frost it.
I cut out a circle on paper and used it to cut three circles from the cake. This method leaves a lot of excess cake. But it’s perfect for snacking on later. And really, how much carrot cake does one small family need to consume? It’s debatable.
Find a pretty serving platter. This eggplant colored plate is from IKEA.
Place the first layer of the cake down and start spreading the frosting. Be liberal with your frosting. There’s no point in having cake if there isn’t a lot of frosting.
Put the second layer on top of that, more frosting on top, and repeat:
Then take your knife and frost all the way around the outside of the cake. There are tons of methods out there for making your cake pretty on the outside. If I’m really feeling ambitious, I frost the outside of the cake (which usually gets bits of cake stuck in the frosting. Not too pretty), then I place it in the fridge for an hour, then I frost another layer around the outside to disguise the first layer. You could also throw chopped nuts around the outside of the cake to disguise messy cake bits.
But today I’m lazy. So I’m leaving it with the crumblies inside. Adds, character, right?
Throw the left-over frosting in a piping bag,
And add some trim to the top and bottom of the cake:
Bring that creamy white beauty over to the table and listen to your family ooh and ahhh.
Serve it up,