Carrot Cake and the Best Cream Cheese Frosting
So, I know that carrot cake is not the most exciting dessert you could make, but it seems to be a crowd favorite. Honestly, I think it has to do with the cream cheese frosting, because there is no better frosting out there! You can’t go wrong with cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla.
This last week was a particularly rough one in our home. My husband is working longer hours, Olivia has perfected the tantrum, and I have taken on one too many projects, one of which was a dessert for my boss’s birthday. Thankfully, he’s a huge fan of carrot cake, which is a relatively easy recipe to make. His dessert choice works with my mantra for the week of keeping things simple. I decided I’m not going to be so hard on myself about not being able to get everything done with I think it needs to be done (with the exception of this cake).
Since my office is pretty small I decided against the huge 9 inch, three layer cake that’s over the top and would leave a lot of leftovers. I kept it simple and made a small (yet tall) two-layer carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting that’s to die for.
I started with this great go-to recipe from The Food Network. It’s easy, it’s dairy free (except the frosting), and the nuts are optional. I also like it because it makes a really moist cake, which is important, especially in carrot cake.
I am going to post the recipe with my alterations and directions below:
Carrot Cake Ingredients:
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 fresh whole eggs
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
- 2 cups finely grated carrots (about 3 full size carrots)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a stand mixer combine sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves.
Slowly add the dry ingredients into the stand mixer a cup at a time. Make sure you mix at a low speed at first to avoid a mess.
Once the ingredients are combined and mixed well, add the grated carrots.
Distribute batter evenly into two (6-inch) cake layer pans or spring form pan, which have been generously greased with butter and dusted lightly with flour.
Place in preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.
Cool layers in their pans for approximately 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack for at least 50 minutes.
Ingredients for the frosting:
- 1 pound of powdered sugar
- 8 ounces room temperature cream cheese
- 2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 stick of room temperature unsalted butter
- 1 cup of finely chopped walnuts (optional)
In a stand mixer cream the room temperature butter and cream cheese. It should be well combined and creamy looking. Add vanilla and mix well. Once combined, slowly add the powdered sugar (one cup at a time) on the lowest mixing speed. Finally, add chopped walnuts as desired. Store in the fridge when not using.
Once the cake has cooled, frost your first cake layer. I tend to add a few more walnuts here for a little extra crunch. Then add the second layer on top. Since there are only two layers and they are a little taller than a standard cake, I’m pretty generous with my cream cheese filling. Once the layers are sandwiched together you can frost the outside and top however you’d like. I usually use a frosting scraper to smooth the sides, then top the cake with some additional chopped walnuts and some piped cream cheese frosting.
This recipe is a classic, and it’s so quick and easy to make. I also think that baking the cake in the smaller pan gives it a fun and unique look while minimizing leftovers. Perfect for a small crowd!