Confession: I am not all that big on cake.
Don’t get me wrong, I love baking and decorating all sorts of cake-ish confections and the celebration and excitement that goes hand-in-hand with bringing a cake to the table is unlike anything else. That childlike joy that lights up the faces of true cake lovers like my sister-in-law Jenna is probably one of the best things to see on an adult human’s face but digging into a big slice of double chocolate, super fudgy, oh-so sweet cake is not something I crave. I am and forever will be a savoury over sweet lady.
Now, please excuse me while I immediately contradict what I’ve said above by introducing you to my good friend Carrot Cake. I love carrot cake for its sneaky ability to feel just a wee bit savoury while still satisfying the cake-lovers in the crowd. This carrot cake is so wonderfully moist and can easily be baked up into two lovely loaves (bake for 45-50 minutes) or 24 muffins (bake for 20-25 minutes).
If you are a fan of raisins in your baked goods, feel free to toss a handful into the mix. I am of the opinion that grapes are grapes, raisins are raisins, and raisins should never try to become grapes again like they tend to do when reconstituted in baked goods.
Makes 2 – 9” round cakes
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
2 oranges, zested
2 ½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
¼ - ½ tsp grated nutmeg, to taste
¼ - ½ tsp ground clove, to taste
3 cups coarsely grated carrot, about 5-6 medium carrots
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
Cream cheese frosting, recipe follows
Optional garnishes: candied pecans or walnuts, candied orange slices
Preheat your oven to 350F and prepare two 9” round pans by lightly greasing and lining the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugars with a whisk until slightly light and fluffy. While whisking, slowly pour in the oil and continue to whisk until fully incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and orange zest and set aside.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add this dry mixture to the wet and, using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold the mixture together until just combined. Add the carrots, nuts, and pineapple and stir just until everything comes together.
Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 20 minutes then carefully turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, frost your lovely little cakes with some cream cheese frosting and garnish to your heart's content!
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 – 8oz packages brick cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 - 6 cups powdered sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
Using either a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Begin adding the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time mixing on low in between each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Keep adding icing sugar until your cream cheese frosting is a spreadable consistency and finish by beating in the salt, vanilla, and cinnamon.