Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
As you can tell from the picture, that trifle doesn’t exactly look like a cake. This was one of those “when life gives you lemons you make lemonade” situations. I was planning to make this carrot cake recipe for Thanksgiving dessert, to go along with the pumpkin pies that my great aunt was planning on bringing. As luck(?) would have it, for the first time in three years, I had cakes fall apart when turning them out of the pan. Of course it would happen the night before Thanksgiving, when I didn’t have the extra ingredients or the extra time to re-make or the cake. So, a trifle it was! The cake was meant to be a three-layer cake with sweet cream cheese frosting between each layer and on top of the cake. So I recreated the cake in trifle form. I looked on the bright side – it took less time to assemble than the finishing decorative touches on a cake would have 😉 The good news? This cake was absolutely out-of-this-world. In the stratosphere of most amazing carrot cakes ever.
My aunt always makes the pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, but my mom asked if I would make an additional dessert, and of course I said yes. I automatically eliminated anything with pumpkin or any type of pie. It took me awhile to do some thinking and then carrot cake finally dawned on me. I absolutely adore carrot cake and thought that it would make a great finish to Thanksgiving dinner. I sat down with my stack of cookbooks to see if a recipe jumped out at me. I narrowed it down to four different ones and chose this one for two primary reasons: #1 – It’s a Dorie Greenspan recipe. And all of the recipes I have tried from her are, without fail, fabulous. And #2 – It was the only recipe with lots of “stuff” in the cake (“stuff” would be defined as nuts, raisins and coconut). I like my carrot cake chunky and hearty. The only change I made was to add cloves, nutmeg and allspice to the cinnamon in the original recipe since I wanted to punch up the spice factor a bit.
I highly, highly recommend this cake. I love carrot cake and this one probably ranks in the top two that I have ever eaten (the other being while on vacation in the Outer Banks). Hope everyone in the U.S. had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and a relaxing weekend!
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup raisins
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup canola oil
For the Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound (3¾ cups) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Position the racks in the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour three 9x2-inch round cake pans. Put two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut and raisins.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar and oil together on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one, and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix in the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the three baking pans.
4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean; the cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)
5. To make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract until well-combined.
6. To assemble, stack the layers, spreading a generous amount of frosting between layers and then cover the top and sides. Garnish and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
*Note 1: If you like a substantial layer of frosting between layers, I would probably use 1.5 times the quantities in the frosting recipe. Too much frosting is always much better than not enough 🙂
*Note 2: Covered, the cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.