I love rich and creamy cream cheese frosting! I can get lost in it, like the old Calgon commercials where a bath just took you to another place! Of course, there is no better combo, in my opinion, than moist carrot cake and heavenly cream cheese frosting! This 2-layer beauty has become a tradition at our table every Easter/Resurrection Sunday. I hope you enjoy it too!
This recipe is super easy unless you go old school and grate your own carrots. I did this once and not only did the carrots turn my fingers orange, but also, it took a really long time to grate a 3 pound bag! I will tell you that I did feel extra accomplished after it came out gorgeous and unbelievably rich!
Note: Fresh shredded carrots contain far more water than store-bought shredded carrots. However, if you add just one tablespoon of water and let them soak a bit before folding them into the batter, this cake will still impress! Also, I believe that the type of vanilla you use makes a huge difference! If you want ordinary frosting, use ordinary vanilla. If you want out of this world frosting—invest in a Madagascar Vanilla Extract or a Pure Bourbon Vanilla like the one I use from Trader Joe’s. I also believe your cinnamon needs to be high quality. Spices are not all created equal. Your taste buds will thank you for the upgrade!
Supper Succulent Carrot Cake
By: Rae-Ellen Sanders
2 cups flour (I use all-purpose white flour,
but feel free to use gluten-free)
2 cups sugar
2 1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1⁄2 cups vegetable oil
3 cups shredded carrots
1 tablespoon water (if using packaged
2 tsp. vanilla (the good stuff!)
1. Start with your flour and sugar, and sift! Yep, you read correctly—sift! I promise it is worth the time to do this! If you don’t have one of those cool sifting devices like your grandma had—simply take a stainless steel mesh colander and start shaking your flour and sugar through it into a large mixing bowl. This makes your flour and sugar really fine.
2. Add the remaining dry ingredients.
3. Slowly add the oil, whisking fervently until well blended. It might seem like this is way too much oil, but trust me, it is the secret to how moist and delicious this cake is! This may be your only workout until the fork-to-plate action that will take place later!
4. Place 3 cups of the shredded carrots into the food processor and chop to a fine texture. Increase liquid by adding 1 tablespoon of water to soak. Don’t drain!
5. Using a hand mixer, mix the eggs and vanilla into the batter.
6. Next, combine your carrots and fold it all in. Voila!
7. Pour the batter into two prepared greased cake pans of the same size. Tip: Use wax paper cut to fit inside your pans for an easy release.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
9. Test with a good ol’ toothpick or fork to make sure it comes out clean.
10. Let cool completely before frosting.
Now for the terribly, irresistible creamy cream cheese frosting! I have a few extra tips for you here. Soften the cream cheese and butter by placing them in a bowl on your counter before you start mixing your cake batter. Do not microwave to soften. I am opinionated on brand here as well. Philadelphia Cream Cheese blends more easily than other varieties. Very importantly, make sure to use full-fat butter, not margarine. I have doubled this frosting recipe because you will apply a nice, thick layer between the cakes and a generous layer on top. If you think it is too much frosting, feel free to cut the ingredients in half. You are creating greatness here—so don’t worry about the calories until you are on your second piece!
HEAVENLY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
2 cream cheese bars (16 oz.), softened
1 stick of butter (1⁄2 cup), softened
4 tsp. vanilla
2 lbs. powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1. Using a hand mixer, blend the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together. Slowly add in the powdered sugar until thick and creamy. Add milk as needed for desired texture. This is sweet but it compliments the carrot cake perfectly!
2. I always do a crumb layer first, which is spreading enough frosting around the tops and sides of both cakes to hold down any crumbs.
3. Place in fridge or freezer for 20 minutes to set.
4. Take out and place the bottom layer on a special plate or cake platter. Add a good amount of frosting to create a yummy middle layer and top with the other cake.
5. Frost the sides and top. Decorate with shelled and chopped walnuts or pecans pressed into the sides (optional). Indulge!