Last month was my 50th birthday and my husband continued his tradition of baking a cake of my choice for me. This carrot cake was this year’s pick. It was incredible. I flagged the page in my King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Cookbook for the recipe. This is my favorite Carrot Cake recipe. It’s dense & yet fluffy, spiced but not overpowering, sturdy but moist. Since I didn’t have an official birthday gathering, I didn’t have a room-full-of-eaters to share my cake with. So, after several days of eating cake everyday, which is not a good practice for me, I sliced up the rest, wrapped it up and stuck it in the freezer. Now, every week or so, I pull out a slice to thaw. It has made my birthday-cake-eating last for many weeks! I like extending celebrations as long as possible and with a cake that freezes well, any day can taste like a birthday.
I think this makes a lovely birthday cake or cake for any kind of celebration- as it is substantial in size- which is good for sharing; is sturdy for transporting and slicing; and is usually a crowd pleaser. It’s hard to go wrong with moist, flavorful cake layered with cream cheese frosting. If you have a special occasion coming up, this classic is a winner. Any season. Any event.
Options are given in the recipe for variations- because evidently people have definite opinions and ideas about what constitutes a *good Carrot Cake*. At the most basic level, I think we can all agree that Carrot Cake is a carrot-filled, moist spice cake covered in cream cheese frosting. The modifications come when you start talking about pecans or walnuts; raisins (golden or classic); coconut or pineapple (or both); and any combination or omission of these items. I really love all the varieties, and welcome any combination of these, but I have learned that most people have definite ideas on this matter.
From King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion
Makes one 9 X13 inch cake, or one 3-layered 8 inch cake
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (12 1/2 oz.) sugar
2 cups (8 1/2 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 1/2 cups (8 3/4 oz.) finely grated carrots
1 cup (4 oz.) chopped pecans
1 cup ( 3 oz.) shredded or flaked coconut
1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
(or substitute 2 cups (12 oz.) raisins for the coconut and pineapple)
Preheat oven to 350˚.
In large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and add oil while mixer is running. Add vanilla, then gradually add the sugar. You’ll have a thick, foamy, lemon-colored mixture. In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add these dry ingredients to the wet mixture, stirring to make a smooth batter. Add the carrots and nuts, then additional mix-ins of your choice (coconut, pineapple and/or raisins).
Pour the batter into a greased 9 X 13-inch sheet pan or three 8-inch round pans and bake for 45 to 50 minutes (sheet) or 35 minutes (rounds). Cake is done when tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
6 Tbsp. (3 oz.) butter, at room temperature
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups (1 lb.) confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
2 to 4 Tbsp. milk, to make frosting spreadable
Combine the butter, cream cheese and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl and beat them together until they’re light and fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating well. Beat in the milk a little at a time, until the frosting is spreadable.
Whether you are in the pecan/raisin/coconut camp, or walnut/ no-raisin/pineapple camp, or no mix ins at all. You are welcome to this Carrot Cake party.