Ahh carrot cake… What is there to say about it? It’s just amazing.
I always like to give you some background story about my relationship with the food I’m sharing – is that weird?
Anyways – I think I first had carrot cake towards the end of my medschool years. I know right?! I’ve never seen this sort of cake in Spain. And honestly, when I first heard the words “carrot cake” I definitely made a face – and not a good one! It just sounded so freaking weird! Carrots in something sweet?! Are you crazy?!?!
Then I tried it. Ahh carrot cake. It’s just amazing.
So as you’ve probably noticed, I looove cinnamony sweets (I honestly think that every single sweet treat I’ve shared so far has cinnamon in it!) and I think that’s one of the beautiful things that this cake has to offer. If you’ve never tried, try it. It’s so weird – does not taste like carrots at all! It’s like the carrots are just there to make it uber moist and give it some texture but it doesn’t actually taste like carrots. Honestly I think it’s magic!
After trying it the first time I made it a bunch more times and tried different things, added my own twists to it and since I first made it I feel like I’ve perfected it to how I like it best. This cake isn’t too sweet but it is full of flavor and it’s moist and delicious. The frosting is very sweet so I like to dial back the sweetness on the cake so it’s not too much but if you’re using less frosting or no frosting at all, you may want to add in a touch more sugar. Up to you!
First things first:
- Grate your carrots and apple
- Toast and chop up your walnuts (or pecans)
- Preheat your oven to 175C
- Grease and line your baking trays – I use two 9-inch / 23cm pans
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
- 3-4 grated carrots (you should have at least about 350g when grated)
- 1 grated apple
- Vanilla extract
- 120g butter
- 200g cream cheese
- 700g icing sugar – sifted
- Vanilla extract
Makes two 23cm / 9-inch cakes
You don’t need any special equipment to make this cake!
- Mix all your dry ingredients in a bowl until even in color (this includes your pecans / walnuts!)
- In a large bowl, beat your eggs and sugar until they look paler and increase slightly in volume – you can do this by hand or with an electric hand whisk if you like. It doesn’t need to be super fluffy just slightly aerated.
- Once your egg mixture looks a bit bubbly, slowly add-in the oil while beating. Then add the vanilla extract as well. At this point your mixture should be a bit thicker and bubblier but again, not expecting it to be super fluffy.
- Incorporate the carrots and apple with a spatula until it’s all well mixed through
- Fold in the dry ingredients just until it’s all mixed – do not overmix!
- Divide your batter evenly onto your prepared baking pans and bake at 175C for 25-30min – you’ll know it’s done when they spring back to the touch or when you insert a skewer or knife and you don’t get any wet batter on it. You should also see the sides of the cake starting to pull away from the pan.
- Let the cakes cool completely – this is a good time to take out your butter and cream cheese from the fridge so they come to room temperature
- To make your frosting, start by sifting your icing sugar so it’s completely lump-free
- Cream the butter and cream cheese until they’re fluffy and pale in color
- Add the icing sugar (in a couple of batches) and mix slowly until incorporated – so you don’t get a big cloud of sugar! – and once it’s fully incorporated beat on high speed for a few minutes until it looks light and airy
- When it’s pretty much there in terms of consistency, add a splash of vanilla extract and mix for another few seconds
- Frost the cake however you like! You can keep it rustic, you can level out the cakes and try to make them more perfect, you can do whatever you like – have fun with this!
- For this cake, I levelled off the bottom layer just to make sure it sat straight (and to have a little cook’s treat!) and used a cake board to transport it
- I used the frosting in between the two layers and then decorated the top with a piping bag fitted with a star tip
- I then used my caramelised pecans on top and that’s it! Simple but beautiful I think!
- For an extra little delicious treat, I’d suggest making my maple syrup caramelised pecans and using them to top up your cake. They’re so easy to make and so delicious! As a non-pecan-lover I can tell you I could eat an entire bowl of these! You can also use them inside instead of plain pecans or walnuts.
- Once you’re done decorating it, I strongly suggest that you put this cake in the fridge for an hour or two to set. Particularly if it’s a warm day (like it was when I made this one), your frosting will probably get a bit sloppy so putting it in the fridge just helps set it nicely and hold its shape.
- If you’re a raisin lover – you’ll probably know I’m definitely not if you’ve seen my oatmeal cookie recipe – you can also add raisins at the same time as the pecans. Just mix them with your dry ingredients.
And that’s it! It’s one of the simplest cakes to make that – aside from grating the carrots and sifting the sugar for the frosting – takes little to no effort to make and it’s always a crowd pleaser! Using oil instead of butter gives you a really moist and light cake, and not only using fresh carrots but also the addition of apple in this recipe gives you amazing flavor and yet, more moisture to the cake! I think it’s a killer recipe – super easy, don’t need any fancy equipment and everyone loves it!
I hope you give this recipe a try and really love it – and if you choose to make it for a special occasion I’m sure it won’t disappoint! As always, thanks for reading me and see you back here again soon!