So, I should probably post this recipe before the next holiday. . . But clearly I’ve failed because today is Cinco de Mayo. Well anyways, three weeks ago, it was Easter. And I made my favorite carrot cake for dessert! This recipe is carrot cake in its purest and simplest form without extra ingredients such as pineapple, raisins, or coconut flakes, and it tastes AMAZING! Especially when the cake is paired with a classic cream cheese frosting! I came across this recipe a few years ago, and it’s been my go-to ever since. I would like to credit Cleobuttera for this fantastic recipe.
Three-Layer Carrot Cake
For the Carrot Cake:
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 6-7 carrots (about 1 pound)
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 4 large eggs (at room temp)
- 1½ cups vegetable oil
For the Frosting:
- 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2-3 cups (depending on desired sweetness) sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
- Spray 3 (8 or 9 inch) round pans with nonstick cooking spray or lightly grease with oil. Coat the pan generously with flour and tap out the excess.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and cloves; set aside.
- In food processor fitted with the shredding disk or using the small holes of a box grater, shred carrots (I had about 6 cups, probably used more carrots than usual, but cake turned out fine, just needed some extra baking time); set aside.
- In the bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in large bowl and using hand-held mixer), beat eggs and both the granulated and brown sugars together on medium-high speed until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds.
- Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer. Turn off mixer.
- With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture by hand until just incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Stir in the carrots.
- Give the batter a final stir to make sure it is thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops. (I was able to fill each pan about halfway)
- Bake until a toothpick or a skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean or with a few cooked crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking time.
- Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edges of the cakes, then flip them out onto a wire rack. Let cakes cool completely before frosting, about 1½ to 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. (Instructions below).
- To frost and assemble, place one of the cake layers onto the cake platter. Spread about 3/4 cup of the frosting over the cake, right to the edges. Place a second cake layer on top and press lightly to adhere. Spread another 3/4 cup frosting over the second cake layer. Top with the final cake layer, pressing lightly to adhere. Frost the top and side of the cake with the remaining frosting.
- Optional: Decorate the side of the cake with 1.5-2 cups of toasted pecans and dye some of the remaining frosting to pipe designs onto the top.
- Serve right away or store until ready to serve under a cake dome or in airtight container to prevent it from drying out. If the weather is warm and the frosting isn’t staying in place, store the cake in the refrigerator and let it sit for 15 minutes at room temperature prior to serving.
To make the frosting:
- In a medium bowl using a hand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy.
- Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar.
- Use according to the recipe above.