carrot cake

The other day, another PhD student had her birthday, and I promised to make a cake. (You know me, I’ll take any excuse to bake.) We settled on a carrot cake, and then I realized I haven’t made one all year, and perhaps not in 2011 either. I think it’s because I fell in love with the bittersweet chocolate and pear cake from Smitten Kitchen, but that’s no excuse to ignore an oldie but goodie.

This recipe is actually for a layered cake, but I don’t really do layered cakes for some reason, so I just made sure the frosting was well-spread on top and called it a day. If you want to do two layers, you can, just split the batter between two 9 inch cake pans and make sure to double the frosting. Otherwise you’re good with a single 9×13 inch pan and the ingredients below.

One more thing. My mom got me a Braun hand processor for my birthday, and I love her for it. Being able to shred carrots in like three seconds, instead of the agonizing twenty minutes it used to take is amazing (plus, no wounded, scraped knuckles and no need to rinse the blood off the carrots! A win-win situation right there).

Also, can we please pretend I remembered to take a picture of the cake itself before we ate it? Please go look at the original if you need a visual.

Carrot cake, from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. (Slightly adapted.)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 cups shredded carrots (6 to 7 large carrots, peeled)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
5 tablespoons butter softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour baking pan(s) (see note above).

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Then shred carrots in a food processor if you’re lucky, scrape your knuckles raw if you’re not. Both methods are time-tested and true. Set the carrots aside as well.

In a big bowl, beat the granulated and brown sugars together with the eggs until well-combined (a little less than a minute). Slow the mixer down a bit and slowly add the oil; try not to let it splash. When all the oil has been added, put the mixer on high and beat it until it’s light in color and well mixed (also about a minute, give or take). Stir in the carrots and flour by hand until the flour is fully mixed in.

Pour into the pan(s) and bake until a skewer comes out clean. It takes between 30 and 50 minutes, depending on your oven. Let the cakes cool before frosting.

For the frosting, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla in a bowl until well-mixed, for about 30 seconds. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix for another minute or so until fluffy. Frost as thickly as you’d like, then eat!


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