One of my most favorite cakes is Carrot Cake!
Growing up, my mom made a carrot cake occasionally throughout the years of my childhood. She would love to bake it as a loaf and feed us thick slices of it. She never used frosting…
BUT I LOVE FROSTING!!!
Now that I am all grown-up, I’ve adapted a version of what that cake was with one of my favorite frostings ever!
The combination of the two recipes makes a delicious cake. I love the soft nutty textured sponge and the tangy velvety frosting spread evenly amongst the layers. It’s just heavenly!
Yield: one 9″ round three-layer cake; serves 10-12
Total Time: 60 minutes + additional cooling time
2 cups Chopped Pecans or Walnuts, optional
1 1/2 cups Packed Light or Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Vegetable Oil
4 large Eggs
3/4 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg, optional
2 cups Grated Carrots
Cream Cheese Frosting
16 ounces Full-fat Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature
4 1/2 cups Confectioners’ Sugar
1 Tablespoon Milk
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Spread the chopped pecans on the sheet and toast for 7-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
- Make the sponge. Then, preheat the oven up to 350°F. Spray oil or butter three 9 inch cake pans, line with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla together until well combined and no brown sugar lumps remain.
- In another large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the ingredients together until well combined.
- Fold in the carrots and one cup of the toasted pecans or walnuts.
- Pour/spoon the batter evenly into the cake pans. Bake for 20-24 minutes. Test the center with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cakes are done. If not, continue to bake until cooked through. Do not over-bake. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
- Make the frosting. In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cream/milk, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes until completely combined and creamy. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin, more milk if frosting is too thick, or an extra pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. Frosting should be soft, but not runny.
- Assemble the cake. First, using a large serrated knife or cake leveler, layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Place one cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with the second layer, more frosting, and then top with the third layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Decorate the sides and top of the cake with the remaining toasted pecans or walnuts.
Cake stores nicely in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.