I have never liked carrot cake. In my mind, a carrot muffin is one thing, but I would never bother with a non-chocolate piece of cake.
Until I made this carrot cake.
Moist and aromatic with cinnamon and cloves, this carrot cake is as good as it gets. A creamy, not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting is the perfect topper. These would be fabulous cupcakes, as well.
Some carrot cake purists may be upset with the lack of raisins and walnuts in this cake, but I like my cake au naturale. You can feel free to add them if you’d like, I’m sure it would be delicious.
Let’s get to baking, shall we?
Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside. Beat together sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla for a few minutes until creamy and thick. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Then, stir in shredded carrots.
Transfer the batter into prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cakes comes out clean.
Let the cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. I like to refrigerate my cooled cakes prior to frosting, because the frosting goes on more smoothly.
Pro tip: For a neater cake, lay down three sheets of wax paper at the edges of the cake platter, and place the bottom cake layer on top of the wax paper when you are ready to frost. After you have frosted the entire cake, gently but firmly pull out the wax papers so the bottom cake edges are neat and clean.
Now back to frosting the cake: Place the bottom cake layer on top of the wax papers. Dollop about a cup or so of frosting on top and evenly frost this layer.
Top with the second layer and press down slightly.
Frost cake completely.
Garnish with candied ginger if desired.
Classic Carrot Cake with Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes one 9-inch layer cake
For the cake:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups shredded carrots (about 1 pound of carrots)
For the frosting:
(2) 8-ounce blocks cream cheese, softened
11 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Crystallized ginger for decoration (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottom of each pan with buttered parchment paper, and flour the pans. Set pans aside.
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through cloves) and set aside. Then, beat the sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla with an electric mixer until creamy (2 to 3 minutes). Add dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Stir in the shredded carrots and transfer batter to prepared pans.
3. Bake cakes for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for 15 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
4. Make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until creamy (3 to 4 minutes). Slowly add the sugar until completely absorbed, then add the vanilla and salt. Beat on high for 4 to 5 minutes, until light and creamy. This is a very creamy frosting – if you want want it stiffer, add more sugar until it is the consistency you like.
5. Frost cake completely and decorate with chopped candied ginger if desired.