Monday, December 5, 2011

Carrot Cake

As you may have noticed, I love trying new recipes. As you may also have noticed, I also love cake. So it may surprise you to know that I have never baked a carrot cake before. And it's not that I don't like carrot cake - I do. A lot. But for some reason that I do not understand, I have always assumed that carrot cake would be difficult to make. It always seemed gourmet. Fancy. Difficult. But we decided to make carrot cake for dessert for this weekend's family dinner.

Since I was nervous about this difficult undertaking, I spent a bit of time searching for recipes. Apparently, carrot cakes are pretty customizable - there are so many different recipes that, while similar, each put their own spin the cakes. I finally picked a recipe and decided to just go with it, giving myself plenty of time, in case it really was as hard as I had always worried.

Holy moly, I have never been so glad to be wrong.

This cake was delicious, and not even hard to make.

I started with the hardest part - shredding the carrots.

Yes, I hand grated the carrots. I would have used the mini-food processor attachment to the immersion blender, but the baby was napping and I didn't want to wake him. So my box grater and I got to spend some quality time together.

I then went to the pantry to grab a can of crushed pineapple. That I was certain was in there. Only to find that it wasn't in there. You'd think I'd have known that, seeing as I just totally reorganized the pantry... So I decided that I would make a couple of adjustments and create my own version of a carrot cake. I mean, hey - all the cook kids are doing it...

So instead of crushed pineapple, I found a can of sliced pears (in juice, not syrup).

I lightly mashed the pears with my potato masher and was good to go.

Next it was time to put everything together. In one bowl, I combined all of the dry ingredients.

I always love how the different dry ingredients look together.

Then the KitchenAid did the majority of the work, mixing together the eggs, sugars, oil and vanilla, then incorporating in the dry ingredients.

The resulting batter was super thick.

That was remedied, though, by the addition of the carrots and mashed pears.

I decided to omit the raisins (chocking hazard) and chopped nuts (allergen) (I am sure you can see where I am going with this...) from the recipe, too, so that little man would be able to taste the cake after dinner as well. Because that would just be fun. So that yummy batter was poured into a pan and was ready to go into the oven.

While the cake baked, I turned my attention to frosting. Because half of the reason that I love carrot cake is the cream cheese frosting. Yum. I decided to make one more adjustment to the recipe, making it, too, my own.

Yup. Maple syrup. It was all I could do not to just dig in to the mixer bowl with a spoon...

And, despite the fact that I didn't make the cake fancy in any way shape or form, I still think it looked pretty good by the time we were ready to go.

So the results?


The cake was moist and delicious, had a really great combination of flavors, and was absolutely fantastic with the maple cream cheese frosting.

And, while he didn't get to try the frosting, little man certainly enjoyed his cake!

This cake was very easy to pull together, and was a total hit with the entire family. I will definitely be making it again.

Carrot Cake
(adapted from Homemade by Holman)

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cups canola oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup mashed pear (most of a can of canned, sliced pears, in juice, mashed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9" x 13" cake pan (the original recipe called for 8-inch cake pans, and said that the batter filled three).
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine sugars, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix on medium speed for about two minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices and whisk together.
With the mixer on low speed, add the whisked dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and combine until just incorporated. The batter will be very thick.
Fold carrots and mashed pears into batter, mixing until well distributed.
Pour the batter into the prepared ban and bake for 34-37 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (The recipe indicates that 8-inch round cakes should bake for about 30 minutes.)
Allow the cake to cool completely (on a wire rack).

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon maple syrup (I doubled this)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I doubled this, too)
2 cups confectioners' sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add maple syrup, vanilla and confectioners' sugar. Continue beating until well combined and smooth. Just be careful when adding the confectioners' sugar, as it wants to puff out of the bowl as the mixer goes! You can adjust the amount of confectioners' sugar to get the frosting consistency that you want.



  1. Looks wonderful Shelley! I love carrot cake and you are right there are thousands of twists to this recipe and I love all of them :) In Brazil they are traditionally frosted with chocolate icing.
    I'm glad your fear is gone, could hardly believe that a Daring Baker like you, was afraid of the carrot cake :))

  2. I love carrot cake, too! Nice job swapping the pineapple for pears! I love pineapple in mine, but always omit raisins, too! Glad the little man got to try some!

  3. Oh this sounds like perfection, it does look incredibly moist too

  4. YUM...carrot cake is always a craving of mine, and yours just brought a huge craving for it to the forefront. It looks so moist! Love that you used pears instead of pineapple (I think pineapple loses so much flavor when cooked) and the maple in the cream cheese frosting is perfection! Kudos on conquering the carrot cake!! :)


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