Traditional Carrot Cake
As a kid growing up, my mom made cakes for people. From wedding cakes, to an indulgent treat for a small get together, she was pumping cakes out of our tiny kitchen like she was working for a bakery. Naturally, I was a taste tester, or at least I thought I was. I would hover around each time she started to get all of her ingredients all sprawled across the kitchen, in hopes to pick up some left-over cake or evens some icing to boot. Apparently, when I was even younger (before I can remember) I used to snag Mom’s icing bags and hid under the table and just eat all I could before getting caught…maybe that’s why I lean more towards salty foods nowadays….
Guess who’s back
One cake that always seemed to have made it’s was back into my mother’s kitchen was the carrot cake. I explicitly remember trying this cake before knowing that there were carrots in it, and not even know that there were any in the cake after tasting it. Again, I always remember being so puzzled as to why there were carrots in it. I’m sure my thoughts were along the line of, “Oh! Someone trying to sneak carrots into my cake!”, or something along those lines. From what I’ve gathered in a short stint of asking around and reading around, it seems like the idea of adding carrots to a cake came from medieval times, when sugar and other sweeteners were scarce, so was born the idea using the carrots to sweeten a cake. Also, there seems to be the idea that it has evolved from “carrot pudding,” another traditional dish to this time period.
Regardless, I remember loving the cake. I still remember the golden brown crumb with little fluorescent orange bits of carrot scattered throughout. I’ll also never forget the signature CREAM CHEESE ICING. Oh man. You know you can’t have carrot cake without this. It may be the reason I like carrot cake so much. The tang of the cream cheese is the perfect accompaniment to the rich sweetness of the cake itself.
I’ll have the pie
I don’t have my own carrot cake recipe. Far from it. I hardly have any of my own cake recipe’s. That is an area that I’ve not really dove into, as I’ve been around cakes my whole life, and well, I’m a little caked out. I’d much rather a nice tart or fruit pie, but that’s just me. I got the recipe for the cake from my Taste of Home cookbook. It’s basically an encyclopedia of recipes and cooking techniques. I HIGHLY recommend it, and even more so because it’s a binder! You can open it up, pull pages out and just carry that page to your workspace instead of the whole cookbook and slopping some beaten eggs and carrots on it…..Grab one here and taste the home: TASTE OF HOME COOKBOOK.
For the icing, I just winged it here. Nothing fancy. Depending on the size of the dish, I usually start a cream cheese icing the same way, creaming the butter and cream cheese together, adding a little vanilla, and then the powdered sugar, and maybe some milk to thin it a little to a spreadable consistency.
Bring the Classic
The whole reason I’m doing this post, is because I wanted more dessert options out there for everyone. I find myself falling more towards savory dishes and posts on the blog, and I want to put some sweet options out there. I also wanted to use this opportunity to show that cakes are easy to make! Don’t ever be scared to make one! Whether it be for your child’s birthday, or a friends celebration, there’s no reason not to get a little messy in the kitchen.
First Go Around
I also wanted to throw out there that this is my first carrot cake! I’m not displeased at how it turned out, however, in using this recipe, I knew it would be very customizable because it was a very short ingredient list. Here are some things I think I will do differently next time.
-less sugar, maybe substitute some for brown sugar
-more cinnamon and other spices as well like nutmeg, all spice, etc.
-added fresh grated ginger
-maybe some lemon zest
-a thicker layer of icing in the middle. Mine wasn’t bad, but was definitely not enough.
-maybe some carrot juice to coax out some more carrot flavor
Again, the recipe is good, and my cake baked up perfectly, but in my eyes, it’s all about the ingredients so why not change them up and make the recipe your own?
So get in there! Break some eggs, get some flour on your clothes. Grate some carrots in this case…Trust me, it’s fun, I do a lot of it! 😊
Carrot cake don’t care-it’s perfectly happy
(care-it’s=carrots…get it? I knew you did, just checking)
Lightly grease and flour two round 9.5″ cake pans. I used olive oil spray and flour.
This moves like any classic cake process. Get all of your dry ingredients together and give them a whisk. Then combine all of your wet, meaning your carrot, eggs, and oil and incorporate your wet into dry. If ever in doubt as to how you should bring your cake together, this is the tried and true method. Wet into dry.
I also just wanted to throw out there while this is a definitely a “no frills” cake recipe, grating carrots can be a chore! The little hand grater I had made quick work of the carrots, and it’s nothing fancy. I really enjoy this grater because of how small it is, but also how strong it is! It has a rather stout little frame to it, a big handle, and a little bar above to grating plate so you can rest it on the surface your grating onto for more support. Check it out here and grab one for yourself: Farberware Handheld Grater
I really like how this batter looks. That color just looks like it’s going to give you an amazing crumb.
The frosting is pretty snappy too. Just cream a pack of cream cheese with a stick of butter. You definitely want to let these soften for awhile or you’ll have chunky frosting. Again, I threw this together but basically you cream the cheese and butter, add a teaspoon of vanilla and incorporate, add 3 cups powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, and then thin it to a spreadable consistency with a little milk. Very little!!!! You don’t want it too thin.
Putting it all together
See it turned out pretty good! I like to let these guys cool for a little in their pan. 15 minutes or so. Then, remove them and let them cool all the way. Either way, let em’ cool before you frost em’.
There’s something about this cake that’s very nostalgic for me. Once I finally had it on the plate, I felt like I was reliving all those days of old, eating my families carrot cake. This didn’t turn out to be the perfect cake by any means, but I was pleased with the result for the first shot at it. This is one that I want to revisit and make all of the changes I had mentioned before and see what happens. Why not?
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3 cups finely shredded carrot, lightly packed *make sure they’re FINELY grated
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 package cream cheese, softened
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp milk for thinning frosting
- Grease and flour two 9″ round cake pans and pre-heat oven to 350.
- Combine all dry ingredients and whisk. (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
- Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl. (eggs, carrots, and oil)
- Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until golden and done in the center, about 30-35 minutes.
- Remove and allow to cool in pans, then remove to wire rack to completely cool.
For the Icing:
- Cream the cream cheese and stick of butter until thoroughly combined. Add in vanilla.
- Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar with mixer running, one cup at a time until all three are added and frosting has a smooth consistency.
- Thin the frosting with a couple splashes of milk, taking caution not to make it too thin.
- Once cakes are cool, decorate with a thick layer of frosting in between the layers of cake and all over the outside. Top with pecans if desired.