american carrot cake

once in a while, I have a hankering for a decorated fussy cake. this doesn’t happen very often, and usually I only practice my cake-layering skills during proper occasions such as birthdays and gatherings – as opposed to my regular weekend-baking sessions where it is loaf-cake galore. this time, I wanted a carrot cake.

I read once somewhere that people only buy carrot cakes or velvet cakes as an excuse to get to the cream cheese frosting. while I agree that the tangy richness of cream cheese is quite a remarkably tasty thing, what I really love about carrot cakes is the carrot cake. there is something so warming and seasonal about a mildly-cinnamony sponge as well as that taste that only vegetable-containing cakes have. I can’t really place it but I’m sure you know what I mean – it’s not vegetal at all but very different from a butter/egg sponge.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’ve started measuring out my ingredients before I started baking. I used to scoff at this method for the countless bowls I had to wash after, but it truly makes things move so much quicker, and really for the bowls containing dry ingredients they only require a bit of a rinse – not much trouble at all for what is truly a timesaver in the kitchen while you bake.

I adapted a recipe from smittenkitchen to make the cake fit my new 6-inch cake moulds (which I love very much and quite conveniently make about half an 8-9″ recipe) as well as included some extra steps like soaking my raisins overnight in orange juice to plump them up. I love raisins, and I think a reason some people hate them is because of the very dry ones that you can get in bad confectionaries. but these are plump, juicy raisins, and really everything that they are meant to be.

carrot cake with cream cheese frosting cake (adapted from smitten kitchen)

113g all-purpose floor
1 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp cinnamon
227g sugar
10 tbsp oil
2 eggs
1.5 cup carrots
0.5 cup walnuts
0.25 cup raisins, soaked overnight (I used orange juice to cover over night, but you can also use tea or water)

    1. preheat your oven to 175C. butter and flour the sides of two 6-inch round pans; line the bottom of the pans with parchment. a good trick when baking using multiple pans – pre-weigh your mixing bowl before adding ingredients and after, and you will be able to divide the batter evenly by weight.
    2. whisk the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon together. in a separate bowl, whisk the sugar and oil together – I used electric beaters, but you can do this by hand. add the eggs separately, mixing until incorporated. beat in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon – gently, but thoroughly.
    3. fold in the carrots, walnuts and drained raisins.
    4. spoon the batter into the pans, and bake for 40 minutes, checking at 25 minutes. if browning too quickly, tent with a piece of foil, shiny side down.
    5. remove from the oven when the cake tester comes out clean, and cool in the pans for 15 minutes before removing and cooling on the rack completely.

cream cheese frosting (adapted from simply recipes)

113g unsalted butter, room temperature
114g cream cheese, room temperature
1-1.5 cups powdered sugar
0.5 tsp vanilla

    1. beat the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. add the vanilla and beat in.
    2. slowly add the powdered sugar and mix in until you get the desired sweetness and viscosity – I find a good trick to keep the sugar from flying too much is to push aside some frosting from one side of the bowl, add the powdered sugar, then push the mixture back over the sugar before mixing.
    3. spread this frosting between the cake layers and around it – I find that a slightly colder mixture spreads more thickly, so place it in the fridge first if you need.
    4. top with walnuts and serve. place in refrigerator until needed!

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