I’m sitting in the warm sun listening to the kids play in this amazing Alabama weather while dreaming of Carrot Cake. Yes, I know that what you are thinking. Who dreams of carrot cake? Well, to give you a little background, Easter is one of my family’s favorite holidays. It’s a really BIG DEAL.
In the South, people start planning what they and their children are going to wear to church on Easter months ahead. Menu’s start coming together, then menu items begin to be assigned to the various family members. My assignment for this year is dessert.
I really can’t think of any more appropriate dessert than carrot cake for Easter. To me, carrot cake marks the change of seasons. I suppose that has to do with my dad not planting anything until after Good Friday. Once my garden is planted, I KNOW spring is here.
There are many variations of carrot cake, but I never veer too far from the Classic Carrot Cake recipe that has been passed down to me. Why mess with perfection? This cake is light, beautiful, and topped with the perfect, not too sweet, cream cheese icing.
Choosing sweet carrots is of utmost importance to the flavor of the cake, but if you can’t find them, don’t let that stop you from making this cake. The carrots in the one pound bags will work fine. too. The carrots need to be shredded very finely. My food processor fitted with the shredding disc is perfect for the job.
Although I celebrate every Easter with carrot cake, this cake is perfect for just about any occasion. My son just had a birthday and his choice of cake for this year was this fabulous carrot cake. My 10-year-old daughter made it for him by herself from start to finish. It’s a pretty simple cake to make. I hope this recipe becomes an heirloom cake from my home to yours!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 6 eggs , lightly beaten
- 4 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 10 medium carrots)
- 2 cups coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
- 2 cups cream cheese (two-8 ounce packages), softened
- 6 tablespoons butter , softened
- 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 tablespoons orange juice (optional)
To make the cake, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9-inch round cake pans.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda until incorporated. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the sugar and the oil on low-speed. Slowly add the eggs to the bowl mixing well on medium speed. At this point, you can’t overwork the batter. Make sure the eggs are completely incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the flour in two batches mixing until incorporated, but not overworking the batter. Gently fold in the carrots and the nuts.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown and begin to barely pull away from the sides of the pans. Place the pans on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then turn the cakes onto cake racks to completely cool.
Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese and butter into the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix at medium speed until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla, and mix until completely incorporated. Add juice if it the frosting seems too thick.
Place one of the cake layers onto a cake stand, top side down (this creates an even surface for the icing). Cover the layer with icing, then add the next cake layer. Continue adding the icing and layers, then place icing over the entire cake. Refrigerate the cake for about 20 minutes or until the frosting is set.