My Favorite Carrot Cake
I could eat this cake for breakfast, lunch and dinner, like a happy, chubby bunny.
I love carrots. Like, LOVE them. There have been times (eh hem…lots of times) when I consumed so many carrots my skin actually turned orange. Orange like an Oompa Loompa. I never knew that was possible, but evidently there’s truth to the saying, “You are what you eat.” And fine by me. There are far worse things than being a carrot and I’m saving money on self-tanner. Pat on the back.
I will eat carrots raw, steamed, roasted, grilled, glazed, sautéed, mashed, juiced, souped, dried, pretty much any way I can find them. But the best way, my FAVORITE way…is in a cake.
Carrot cake has been a staple in my house since I was little. It’s the “go-to” birthday cake for my dad, probably because it’s the only cake he knows how to make (no complaints here). My mom has it mastered, as well. They use the same recipe, and it is simply perfect. I remember requesting the cake after my second son, Killian, was born. I came home from the hospital, exhausted and overwhelmed, and it was the only thing I wanted. You could say it’s my comfort food, or rather my comfort cake.
Everyone has their own version of carrot cake. It’s an old fashioned dessert with a personal, homestyle charm. Some prefer raisins, others pineapple, some like nuts, others coconut. For me, any way is delicious as long as the ingredients are fresh and the cream cheese frosting is the real deal.
Today is a carrot cake day. I called my dad and had him send me a photo of the homemade recipe. Believe it or not, I’ve never made it myself. The recipe is handwritten in faded ink, on a worn, oil stained index card; the instructions incredibly simple. Just looking at it I felt closer to home.
My parents’ recipe doesn’t call for raisins or coconut, but having them on hand, I threw them into the mixing bowl. I figure, I should leave my mark on a generations old recipe. The cake came out amazing! Just like my mom and dad used to make, only packing a bit more texture and flavor from the raisins and coconut. It’s positively perfection. I slathered it in cream cheese frosting, had some fun with rustic decoration, and then ate it…for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The best thing about this recipe, no mixer needed. Just a whisk, a couple large mixing bowls, and a wooden spoon are all you need. I hope you love the cake as much as I do. And if not, just bring it my way. I’ll happily finish it off, chubby bunny style.
My Favorite Carrot Cake
Makes one 6” three layered cake
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups oil (I prefer grapeseed oil, but canola or vegetable oil will work, too)
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups shredded fresh carrots
8 1/2 oz crushed pineapple, well drained of extra juice
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 chopped walnuts
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Butter and flour three 6” cake pans.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In another large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, and eggs till well combined.
Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the carrots, pineapple, raisins, coconut, and walnuts.
Add the flour mixture to the carrot mixture. Stir till well combined.
Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Bake on the center rack for 35 mins or until a tester comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes from pans to cool completely on a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter in large bowl to blend.
Beat in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.
Place one cake layer on a plate. Spread a heaping layer of frosting over the top.
Top with second cake layer. Spread a heaping layer of frosting over top.
Top with the final cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides.
Decorate to your taste with walnuts, flowers, or keep it simple.
*Baker’s Note: This cake can be made one day ahead. Cover; chill. Let stand at room temperature before serving.