I had the urge to make carrot after a co-worker of Todd’s mentioned she was making one for her wedding. Unfortunately, a prior carrot cake making endeavor was traumatic and I hadn’t made one since. What happened was after I baked the big beautiful cake, it developed little flecks of green. I did some research to try to find out what caused the green and didn’t get any clear cut answer. Nigella said it was the carrot skins that cause this, but I used skinned, pre-shredded carrots, so I think it was a chemical reaction to the baking soda. At any rate, it put me off carrot cake for a while and I’ve always been a huge fan. This cake needed to be redemptive, which meant using less baking soda.
After looking at many recipes on-line, I ended up making the cake as written below. Most versions at least 2 teaspoons of baking soda, but I used 1 tsp. soda and 1 tsp. powder. Other versions use 2 cups white sugar, but I used half white, half brown. Instead of a full cup of oil, I used half oil and half butter. I also used pineapple, which some people opt not to use but which I love. Following the lead of an allrecipes cake that had about 400 good reviews, I let the carrots sit in the sugar for 10 minutes and develop a juice. I don’t know what this does besides add moisture (the recipe didn’t say to pour it off), but it worked for me so I’d probably do it again to make a super-moist carrot cake.
Interestingly, after making this cake, I read that Chris Kimball of Cook’s Illustrated does the carrot macerating step too, only in his version he uses a bit more sugar and dumps off the excess juice. I’ll be trying his method next, as it seemed to promise another type of carrot cake I really love – -the dark, flaky and moist type. But back to the cake at hand, this one is a very moist, dense cake. My friend said it tasted like Fall.
- 3 cups shredded carrots
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup well-drained crushed pineapple (about 1 cup before draining)
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (optional)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans
- 16 oz of softened cream cheese
- 4 oz of unsalted or salted butter, softened
- 2 cups confectioners sugar (more if desired)
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- milk (if needed)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 (8 inch) round cake pans with flour-added cooking spray or spray a 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray. If using 8 inch pans, you might want to line bottom with parchment because this cake is sticky.
- In a large plastic bowl mixing bowl, stir together carrots and both sugars. Let sit for about 10 minutes; the sugar will form a juice. Stir in oil, melted butter, eggs, vanilla, pineapple and fresh ginger.
- Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir flour mixture and toasted nuts into carrot mixture. Pour into prepared pans or pan.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes (13x9 inch pan might take longer) or until tester comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then turn from pans if using 8 inch. The cake is fairly delicate, so be careful. Cool completely and prepare frosting.
- Beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla. Stir in sugar, then beat until fluffy and light. Frost Cake.