There are so many carrot cake recipes out there – with all sorts of mix-ins – raisins, pineapple, nuts, currants, etc. – but I wanted to find a recipe that really showcased the carrot in carrot cake. I found it – this is the one and I promise you will not look back. There are lots of shredded carrots in here (thank goodness for the food processor!).
And lets not forget the other shining star for a perfect carrot cake – the cream cheese frosting. This one is to.die.for and I think its because Cooks Illustrated found a ‘secret’ ingredient with buttermilk powder in the frosting. I think it gave the perfect tang without having to use sour cream (which I am not a very big fan of either).
The cake was simply decorated with just some toasted walnuts (feel free to use pecans if you wish!) and those added a nice crunch.
For the cake:
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 1 lb. medium 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 or canola oil
For the frosting:
- 16 Tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 cups (12 oz.) confectioners’ sugar
- 1/3 cup buttermilk powder
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 12 oz. cream cheese, chilled and cut into 12 equal pieces
- 2 cups pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse
1. To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
3. In a food processor fitted with large or fine shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds. Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to medium-high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer.
5. Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into prepared pans and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 32 to 38 minutes.
6. Let cakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then invert them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
7. To make the Frosting: Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, buttermilk powder, vanilla and salt on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-low and add the cream cheese 1 piece at a time; and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes.
8. Frost the cakes and then coat the edges with the chopped nuts. Chill before serving.