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Carrot Cake

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Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

Maybe it’s the thought of Easter bunnies munching on carrots but carrot cake makes me think of spring and Easter.  In reality, the warm, spicy flavors of ginger and cinnamon make this an equally satisfying treat during the fall and winter or any other time of year.  It is denser than many cakes and very similar to a quick bread. 

After looking through my cookbooks I realized that my family’s pumpkin bread recipe is pretty similar to many of the carrot cake recipes that I found.  Because we love our pumpkin bread so much I decided to use our recipe.  I substituted grated carrots for the pumpkins (just like I did with the zucchini bread last summer) and I used ginger instead of nutmeg.  I decorated the bars with cream cheese frosting and piped little carrots on each slice using cream cheese frosting colored with natural dyes from carrot and spinach juice.

When unfrosted, the carrot cake bars are just like a muffin or a piece of sweet bread {which is how my boys preferred it}.  Frosting the carrot cake simply takes it up a notch to dessert status, either in cupcake or cake form.  The recipe makes four 9-inch cake rounds or the equivalent in cupcakes.  I made a half batch of cream cheese frosting so that we could enjoy the carrot cake both ways.  If you are one of the people that like raisins, pineapple, coconut or nuts in your carrot cake, I will leave that up to you because I prefer mine plain.

Carrot Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 9-inch rounds
 
When unfrosted, the carrot cake bars are just like a muffin or a piece of sweet bread. Frosting the carrot cake simply takes it up a notch to dessert status, either in cupcake or cake form.
Ingredients
Carrot Cake
  • 1 cup vegetable oil {or applesauce}
  • 3 cups sugar
  • ⅔ cups water
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 4 eggs
  • 3½ cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
Naturally-Dyed Frosted Carrots
  • Frosting
  • Carrot juice
  • Spinach juice
Instructions
Carrot Cake
  1. Mix all of the ingredients together.
  2. Divide the batter evenly between four 9-inch round cake pans, two greased loaf pans or the equivalent of lined muffin tins.
  3. Bake the cake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes for round cake pans and muffins or up to 1 hour for loaf pans, or until the top springs back to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.
Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. Mix the ingredients to form a creamy frosting.
  2. Frost the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and reserve a small portion of frosting to make the carrot toppers.
  3. Refrigerate any leftover frosting in a sealed container.
Naturally-Dyed Frosted Carrots
  1. Divide the frosting that you saved for the carrots into two small bowls.
  2. Mix a few drops of carrot juice into one bowl, stirring until the liquid is totally mixed in and you have your desired shade of orange.
  3. Mix a few drops of spinach juice into the other bowl, stirring until the liquid is totally mixed in and you have your desired shade of green.
  4. Using icing bags fitted with small tips, pipe the orange carrots and the green stems.

*I have read many places about substituting applesauce for oil and though I’ve baked quite a bit with yogurt and Greek yogurt I have yet to try the applesauce versions.  I thought that it would be interesting to be able to try the different versions side by side so as an experiment I divided the recipe into fourths and made one pan of regular cake, one pan of cake with applesauce instead of the oil, one pan of cake with yogurt instead of the oil and one pan of cake with half oil and half yogurt.  After reading a tip in Cooking Light a while ago, I finished mixing the batter by hand so as not to overbeat the batter.  I was surprised that when sampled side by side there was not a drastic difference in the texture of the cake.  The biggest difference was in flavor, the full-oil version being the richest and having the most depth in flavor.  The applesauce version was a close second.  It was interesting that all versions were good – both of my sons devoured all of them equally.  And especially when topped with cream cheese frosting, the taste differences were not really noticeable.

Carrot Cake

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