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Carrot Cake

Our favorite Carrot Cake recipe of all time! This cake is incredibly moist and perfectly spiced with a delicious tangy cream cheese frosting. Decorate the cake with candied pecans to give it an extra delicious finish touch!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Vegetarian
Keyword carrot cake
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Calories 408kcal
Author Chelsea
Cost $7.73

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Wet Ingredients

  • 1 cup (200g) vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (55g) regular applesauce (sweetened)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (276g) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (95g) white sugar
  • 3/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups (295g) finely grated carrots (~5-6 large carrots)

Frosting

  • 2 packages (8 oz.; 226g EACH) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature, do not melt
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter at room temperature, do not melt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (450g) powdered sugar

Candied Pecans (OPTIONAL)

  • 1 large egg whites, (discard or save the yolk for another recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (100g) white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups (218g) pecan halves

Instructions

Cake

  • PREP CAKE PANS: Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Grab two 9-inch round pans and prepare parchment paper liners for the cake pans (See Note 1). Generously spray pans and liners with cooking spray and dust generously with flour. (Take your time preparing the pans so the cake doesn't stick -- it's worth the extra few minutes here!) Set aside. Set cream cheese and butter out for frosting so they can get to room temperature.
  • CARROTS: Peel and then grate the carrots on the small side of a grater to get very fine pieces of carrots. Shred the carrots carefully. Measure to ensure you have 3 filled cups. Yes, this is tedious, but definitely the star for making this cake ultra moist and tasty. I don't recommend using a food processor or pre-shredded carrots from the grocery store.
  • DRY INGREDIENTS: In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients EXCEPT FOR THE SALT. Add the flour (important to spoon and measure the flour so you don't end up with too much -- See Note 2), baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Whisk together and set aside.
  • WET INGREDIENTS: In another large bowl, mix the oil, applesauce, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla with a large whisk until completely combined and smooth. Whisk vigorously -- the oil should be emulsified -- this takes about 1-2 minutes. Add in the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking after each addition. Add in the grated carrots and salt and stir to combine.
  • SIFT IN DRY INGREDIENTS: Add a sifter on top of the wet ingredients bowl. Sift in all of the dry ingredients into the cake batter. Use a wooden spoon to mix until ingredients are *just* incorporated. (Do not overmix to avoid a dense/tough cake.)
  • BAKE: Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared pans (See Note 3) and bake for 28-35 minutes or until a toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Remove and allow to cool for 15 minutes before inverting the cakes onto a cooling rack for them to finish cooling.

OPTIONAL: Candied Pecans

  • PREP: While the cakes cool, prepare the pecans. Lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees F and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpat liner.
  • PREPARE 2 MIXTURES: In a mixing bowl, whip together the egg whites, water, and vanilla until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
  • TOSS PECANS: Add pecans to egg whites; stir to coat the nuts evenly. Using a slotted spoon, remove the nuts, and toss them in the sugar mixture until coated. Spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet.
  • BAKE: Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring and tossing every 15 minutes. Remove the nuts and spread them on a sheet of parchment paper. Allow them to cool completely and harden and then finely chop the candied pecans.

Frosting

  • COMBINE: In a large bowl fitted to a stand mixer, add in the cream cheese and butter. Make sure both are at room temperature and not at all melted or softened.
  • BEAT: Beat the two until completely smooth. Add in the vanilla extract and a generous pinch of salt (if desired). Beat until smooth.
  • POWDERED SUGAR: Gradually add in the powdered sugar, beating until smooth and combined. Taste and adjust adding more vanilla or salt if desired.
  • DECORATE: Place a little frosting on the cake serving plate (just to hold the bottom cake in place) and top with one completely cooled cake layer. Add frosting to the center spreading it in an even layer. Top the frosting with the other cake.
  • FINISH FROSTING: Use the remaining frosting to generously frost the cake. If the frosting is too soft, either refrigerate it or add an additional 1/2 cup powdered sugar. You will likely have a bit of extra frosting, so don't feel like you need to use it all on the cake. Once the cake is frosted, decorate the sides with the chopped candied pecans. Add a few to the top if desired.

Notes

Note 1: Make a parchment paper round liner for the bottom of the cake pans by following these steps:
  1. Tear off a sheet of parchment slightly larger than the cake pan.
  2. Fold the parchment in half and in half again to form a square shape.
  3. Fold the square into a triangle and then fold the triangle in half again.
  4. Hold the triangle against the bottom of the pan from the center outwards.
  5. Cut the parchment right where it meets the edge of the cake pan, along the curve of the cake pan.
  6. Unfold the parchment and press it into the bottom of the cake pan.
Note 2: If you press a measuring cup into a bag of flour and scoop, you will pack in way too much flour, resulting in the wrong texture of cake. To accurately measure the flour, spoon the flour into the measuring cup until its overfilled. Then use the back of a table knife to level the measuring cup at the top. (Video visual here).
Note 3: When making a layered cake, it is important to make sure you are dividing the batter equally between the cake pans so everything bakes evenly. The easiest way to confirm the layers are even is to weigh them! Eyeball pouring even amounts into each pan and then check the accuracy with a kitchen scale. Simply weigh each pan and then use a spoon to adjust the batter in each cake pan so that each pan contains perfectly even amounts. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 408kcal | Carbohydrates: 54.5g | Protein: 4.6g | Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 54mg | Fiber: 1.5g | Sugar: 36.7g