Ah, carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I start to think about you, with your glorious, toasted pecans, when the winter starts to get long. I dream of spring– of that delicious new green that seems to happen when the trees finally yawn to wakefulness after a long, cold winter, and begin to stretch their stiff, gray branches to life. Birds sing. The grass stirs. The earth awakens, bringing with it the scent of rain and leaves and earth. Carrot Cake celebrates all that is spring– the earthy vegetables, kissed with the sweetness of raisins and pineapple, and adorned with a rich, cream cheese frosting that we all dream of. A sweet, nutty pecan topping brings it all together. Ahhhh . . . it’s just great. 🙂
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(Adapted from Allrecipes.com)
3 eggs (room temperature)
3/4 cup buttermilk (room temperature)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup raisins
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter or margarine, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream
In the bowl of your stand mixer beat together eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Add in spices and mix. Add in flour and baking soda until mixed. Stir in carrots, coconut, nuts, pineapple, and raisins. Pour batter into greased 9×13 baking pan (I used three 6 inch rounds instead) and bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until cake passes the toothpick test and springs back when lightly touched. Baking time will vary on the type of pans you use, so watch your cakes and let them be your guide, rather than the clock. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.
To make cream cheese frosting, beat together softened cream cheese and butter or margarine until soft and creamy, with no lumps. Slowly stir in powdered sugar. Add in vanilla and heavy cream and beat for 1 minute, until light and fluffy.
Now, in pictures! ?
First of all, this cake is a little bit of work. YESSSSS you have to grate carrots. YESSSSSSS it’s a pain. Please don’t get any of your fingers in there. Ewww. But it’s worth it to have REAL carrot cake. You will never go back to the boxed stuff once you taste the real thing.
Start out by beating together your eggs, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of your stand mixer. I highly recommend the Kitchenaid stand mixer (my hubby recently treated me to the beautiful new Seaglass color). It helps to use a stand mixer to do this, so that you can just add everything and only need to clean up one bowl. Fewer dishes, cake faster. You’re welcome.
Next, add in your spices and mix. Think SPICY thoughts. Add in the flour and baking soda just until mixed. That’s the great thing about using a stand mixer– you can add in everything and never have to stir by hand. Your hands can sit back and be leisurely and pampered. Well . . . at least until the kids want a juice box.
Now let’s talk vegetables. Yes, you can grate carrots by hand. But I just threw mine into the shredder of this handy dandy food processor, and it took about 30 seconds to shred them all. Perfect.
Stir in your carrots, coconut, nuts, pineapple, and raisins. Beautiful, isn’t it? Pour the cake batter into your baking pan. I used three 6 inch pans because I wanted layers. And the little pans were just so darned cute.
Now obviously, your baking time is going to change based on your pan size. For my six inchers I needed about 30 minutes, but my 9×13 took a little longer– about 40-45 minutes. Each oven varies a bit (oven thermometers help with this), but go by your cake, rather than by the strict time. The time is just a guideline. What you want is the cake to pass the toothpick test, and spring back lightly when you touch the center. That means it’s done. Sometimes the cake pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan, too. When your cake is done (keep an eye on it– we don’t want any burned cakes!), pull it out and allow it to cool completely before frosting.
The thing about cream cheese frosting is that it really helps to let the cream cheese and butter soften on the counter, out of the refrigerator, for about 1/2 hour before you’re ready to make your icing. Cold dairy will not whip up nice and smooth. Softened dairy will. You’re welcome.
Beat together your softened cream cheese and butter until your mixture is smooth and without lumps. Slowly mix in your powdered sugar, and then vanilla and heavy cream. At first, the icing won’t seem fluffy. But beat it on high speed for about a minute, and that cream will do amazing things, and your icing will become fluffy and light and deeeeeeelicious.
Top your frosted cake with a sprinkling of toasted pecans, if you want. IF you want? Seriously. Do it. Taste your glorious, decadent creation. Dream glorious dreams of spring. Marvelous, isn’t it?
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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