The history of Carrot Cake is long and storied, with roots back in the middle ages and a revival in popularity in World War II due to rationing. Its incredible flavor is also long and storied: made extra moist with the carrot, the spice cake is tender and filled with crunchy toasted pecans. Topped with a luscious and creamy cream cheese frosting, Carrot Cake is perfect for spring teatime parties or autumn get-togethers. This cake will become a legendary addition to your baking menu!

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Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 cups pecans, chopped, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup applesauce, smooth and unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups carrots, grated

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, full-fat and warmed to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste

Directions

Step 1 –Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Step 2 –Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Step 3 –Spread the chopped pecans on the sheet.

Step 4 –Toast the pecans for 7-8 minutes.

Step 5 –Transfer the nuts from the oven and let them cool for 10-15 minutes.

Step 6 –Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

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Step 7 –Grease two or three 9-inch cake pans, then line them with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. The parchment paper will help the cakes seamlessly release from the pans.

Step 8 –Whisk the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla together in a large bowl until fully incorporated, and no brown sugar lumps remain.

Step 9 –In another large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together.

Step 10 –Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the ingredients together until just combined, careful not to overmix.

Step 11 –Fold in the carrots and 1 cup of the toasted pecans.

Step 12 –Pour or spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.

Step 13 –Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. If you are using three cake pans, bake for about 20-24 minutes. If using two pans, bake for about 30-35 minutes. Make sure to not overbake the cakes.

Step 14 –Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack or on the counter.

Step 15 –Add the cream cheese and the butter together in a large bowl. If you have a stand mixer, mix on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. If you are mixing by hand with a whisk, mix the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.

Step 16 –Add the confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream or milk, the remaining vanilla extract, and the salt.

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Step 17 –Beat the frosting mixture at low speed for 30 seconds.

Step 18 –Increase the mixer to high speed and beat for 3 minutes, or whisk by hand until the mixture is completely combined and creamy. If the frosting is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk. If the frosting is too sweet, add an extra pinch of salt. The frosting should be soft, but not runny.

Step 19 –Adjust the frosting recipe as needed to the number of cakes you decide to cook.

Step 20 –Using a large serrated knife or cake leveler, carefully cut off a thin layer of the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface.

Step 21 –Place the first cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate.

Step 22 –Cover the top evenly with the frosting.

Step 23 –Place the second layer of cake on top of the first or base layer, add more frosting until all of the cake is covered.

Step 24 –Top with the third layer, if you used three layers.

Step 25 –Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides.

Step 26 –Decorate the top and sides of the cake with the remaining toasted pecans.

Step 27 –Refrigerate the cake for at least 15-20 minutes before slicing. This will help the cake hold its shape when cutting.

Step 28 –Slice then serve!