Finding the perfect carrot cake recipe was important to me for two reasons: 1) the cake was for BF’s birthday (it’s the only cake he really likes) and 2) I’ve never ever made carrot cake before and trying new recipes makes me nervous. I’ve never been a huge fan of carrot cake, though my dad loves it — plus it has always seemed like a complicated cake to make. But it was BF’s birthday, after all, and though he would have been fine with no cake at all, I wanted to make him something special for his birthday.
I turned to one of my favorite websites for a carrot cake recipe I could trust.
For my cake, I increased the ingredients by one-half so that I could get three cake pans instead of two in order to get a six layer cake.
- 4 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3 c. sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 T. baking soda
- 1 1/2 T. cinnamon
- 2 1/4 c. olive oil or grape seed oil
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 T. vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 c. shelled walnuts, chopped (more whole or chopped for topping)
- 2 1/4 c. sweetened, shredded coconut
- 3 c. of finely grated carrots
- 1 1/2c. of drained crushed pineapple
- 16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 12 T. unsalted butter, room temp
- 5 c. of confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 4 T. lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9 inch cake pans. Cut out rounds of wax paper and place at bottoms of cake pans. Butter the top of the wax paper rounds.
- Sift dry ingredients into a bowl. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in chopped walnuts, coconut, carrots and pineapple.
- Pour batter into pans. Set on the middle rack of oven and bake for 45-50 minutes (shift positions of cakes front-to-back if necessary about halfway through), until edges have pulled away from sides and a toothpick or sharp knife tip inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a cake rack.
- To prepare frosting, cream together the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Slowly sift in the confectioners sugar and beat until mixture is free of lumps. Stir in vanilla and lemon juice.
- Once cakes have cooled, frost. Sprinkle top with chopped walnuts or arrange walnut halves in a crown around the top.
I started making this cake around 1:30 p.m. and we didn’t sit down to enjoy it until around 6:30 p.m. My guess is that most people can make this cake faster than I did, and Chef Dexter was quick to point out that he can make his recipe for carrot cake in an hour. He ribbed me a bit for following the directions to a T (which I normally don’t do), and I had to explain I was a carrot cake making virgin and I wanted to make the cake according to the exact directions.
One of the things that took the longest to do during recipe prep was grating the carrot. The recipe calls for a three cups of finely grated carrots and that pretty much seemed to take about an hour. Chef Dexter said it wouldn’t have been noticeable had I used the bigger sized grate. Oh well.
As the cake was cooking, I kept a watchful eye on what was happening in the oven. I did not want a coconut cupcake reprise, especially not when making BF’s birthday cake. With ten minutes left on the timer I pulled two of the pans out. I had inserted toothpicks in all the cake pans, and two of the three had come out clean. BF and Chef Dexter convinced me to put them back in the oven despite my better judgment. With three minutes left on the timer I pulled two out and left the third pan in the oven.
I would like to note that the one that I left in the oven upon suggestion of both BF and Chef Dexter ended up getting burned at the corners. It wasn’t terrible (not as bad as the coconut cupcakes), but I’ve learned my lesson to use my own judgment when baking.
Splitting the cake’s layers for frosting was a collective effort amongst the three of us. It took all of us to evenly split the layers in half and then remove the top half and set it aside on wax paper without crumbling the cake (especially because we did this when the cake was still warm). Chef Dexter tried to coax me out of a six-layer cake by telling me it wouldn’t work. I stubbornly refused to make a three-layer cake. I have made plenty of six-layer cakes before. (Well, two anyway.) And I knew it could successfully be done. (Actually, I was secretly afraid the carrot cake would be too crumbly and we wouldn’t be able to easily split the layers, but I put on a brave face so Chef Dexter would think I was confident in what I was doing.)
The verdict? It was a really good cake. One of the reasons I liked this recipe was because it was sans raisins (both BF and myself hate raisins and as it turned out, so does Chef Dexter). There were some minor things that I did not like about this cake:
- It was made with olive oil. I have never, ever, ever used olive oil in baking. I’ve never, ever, ever heard of using olive oil in baking. But the recipe called for olive oil or grape seed oil (which is insanely expensive) and since we had olive oil on hand and I wanted to go with what the directions said, I did what was called for in the recipe. Neither BF nor Chef Dexter said they could taste the olive oil in the cake, but to me it tasted very strongly of olive oil. However, I think I am very sensitive to olive oil. (I hate the smell of it.) Next time I would use a different oil for baking or even melted butter.
- The frosting was too gooey. I felt like it should have been a bit more stiff (better for frosting the cake). I even added an extra cup of confectioner’s sugar (which improved the texture dramatically), but I was afraid if I added more, the sugar would drown out the cream cheese flavor.
All in all, the cake was great and a huge success at the dinner table. I would definitely either change this recipe next time I make carrot cake, or try another recipe altogether.