Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Slice

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There’s something about a well-made carrot cake that brings back cherished memories of family gatherings and holiday feasts. This particular carrot cake recipe has been a staple in my family for years, and its origins trace back to a quaint little bakery I stumbled upon during a trip to Vermont. The bakery’s carrot cake was so moist and flavorful that I just had to recreate it at home. After a few tweaks and taste tests, this version became our go-to recipe for special occasions.

One thing I love about this recipe is its versatility. While the original version is delightful, I’ve found that adding a handful of crushed pineapple to the batter can give it a slightly tropical twist. For those who prefer a bit of crunch, incorporating chopped walnuts or pecans not only adds texture but also enhances the flavor profile. If you’re feeling adventurous, a sprinkle of shredded coconut can bring a whole new dimension to the cake.

Now, let’s talk about the star of the show – the cream cheese frosting. Silky, smooth, and perfectly sweet, this frosting complements the spiced carrot cake beautifully. It’s a match made in dessert heaven! I sometimes like to mix in a hint of orange zest to the frosting for a subtle citrusy kick that pairs wonderfully with the spices in the cake.

Whether you’re baking for a birthday, holiday, or just because, this carrot cake is sure to impress. It’s easy to make, full of flavor, and topped with the most delicious cream cheese frosting. Plus, it holds a special place in my heart as a reminder of family, friends, and a memorable trip to Vermont. Happy baking!

Making the Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

For the Carrot Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrots, lightly packed

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Heat your oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, applesauce, and vanilla extract until smooth. Stir in the grated carrots until well mixed.
  4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing gently with a whisk or rubber spatula just until blended. Do not over-mix.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans on a wire rack for 20 to 25 minutes. Then, remove the cakes from the pans and let them cool completely on the wire rack.
  7. For the frosting, in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and mix for another 30 seconds to 1 minute until creamy.
  8. Gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, mixing until fully incorporated and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  9. To assemble the cake, level the tops of the cooled cakes. Place one layer on a serving plate, spread about ½ cup of frosting on top, and smooth it out evenly. Place the second layer on top and use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with pecans or other desired toppings.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

FAQs:

Can I use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour in the carrot cake?

Yes, you can substitute whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour in this carrot cake recipe. However, keep in mind that the texture may be denser and the flavor slightly different. To maintain a good balance, consider using a 50/50 mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour.

How should I store the carrot cake to keep it fresh?

To keep your carrot cake fresh, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. If you need to store it for a longer period, you can freeze the cake. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil before freezing. Thaw it in the refrigerator before serving.

Can I add nuts or raisins to the carrot cake batter?

Absolutely! You can add about 1 cup of chopped nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, or raisins to the batter. Fold them in gently after combining the wet and dry ingredients to ensure they are evenly distributed without over-mixing the batter.

Is it necessary to use unsweetened applesauce in the recipe?

Using unsweetened applesauce helps control the sweetness of the cake. If you only have sweetened applesauce on hand, you can still use it but reduce the amount of granulated sugar slightly to balance the sweetness. This adjustment will help maintain the desired flavor profile.

Can I make the cream cheese frosting ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the cream cheese frosting ahead of time. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Before using, let it come to room temperature and give it a quick mix to ensure it is smooth and spreadable.

What is the best way to grate the carrots for the cake?

The best way to grate carrots for the cake is to use a box grater or a food processor with a grating attachment. Aim for finely grated carrots to ensure they blend well into the batter, providing moisture and a smooth texture to the cake.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Slice

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

A moist and flavorful carrot cake recipe with cream cheese frosting that's perfect for any occasion. Easy to make and incredibly delicious!
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 33 minutes
Course Cake
Cuisine American
Servings 8
...

Ingredients
  

CARROT CAKE:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup vegetable or canola oil 180ml
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrots lightly packed

CHEESE FROSTING:

  • 1 package 8-ounce cream cheese (softened)
  • ½ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions
 

THE CARROT CAKE:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper circles. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, and salt until fully blended. Set aside.
  • In another large bowl, whisk together the oil, eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, applesauce, and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the grated carrots to the wet mixture and stir until well incorporated.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing gently with a whisk or rubber spatula until just combined. Avoid over-mixing the batter.
  • Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the tops are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Remove the cakes from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool in the pans for 20 to 25 minutes. Once slightly cooled, remove the cakes from the pans and allow them to cool completely on the wire rack.

THE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

  • In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the butter and continue mixing for 30 seconds to 1 minute until well combined and creamy.
  • Gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, mixing until fully incorporated and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • To assemble the cake: Level the tops of the cooled cakes with a knife or cake leveler. Place one cake layer on a serving plate, spread a little over 1/2 cup of frosting on top, and smooth it out evenly. Place the second cake layer on top and use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with pecans or other desired toppings.
Keyword Carrot, Cream Cheese

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