Can you settle something for me?
Carrot cake – what’s it supposed to have in it? Carrots, obviously, but anything else? Raisins? Walnuts? Pineapple? Because I sure as hell don’t think so.
That, to me, would be a hummingbird cake, a traditional Southern treat that’s as sweet as hummingbird feed (Idk if that’s where the name came from, I’m taking an educated guess and avoiding Google.) and NOT carrot cake.
Carrot cake has carrots. And a few warming spices. All slathered in cream cheese frosting (because apparently I’m incapable of making a cake without it). Nothing else. I don’t want any nuts or other fruits or other veggies in my way.
So that’s what I made.
Call me a purist.
(makes 1 9-inch 3 layer cake)
3 ½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger
Dash of ground nutmeg and allspice
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup canola oil
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 whole eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ cups whole milk, at room temperature
1 pound carrots, shredded
1 recipe Classic Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with baking spray. Set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, oil, and sugar until light and fluffy, about four minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary.
Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
Working in three batches, add the flour to the bowl, alternating with milk, ending with flour, scrape down bowl and finishing by stirring in shredded carrots by hand.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until edges begin to pull away from pan and tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool on rack for 10 minutes before turning out of pans and cooling to room temperature.
While cakes cool, make the frosting.
Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
12 oz. (1 ½ blocks) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 pound bag of powdered sugar, divided
¼ cup whole milk
pinch of salt
2 tsp. vanilla
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the battle attachment cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add ¾ of the bag of powdered sugar, milk, big pinch of salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on the lowest speed, begin pulsing to slowly incorporate powdered sugar and avoid a messy situation. Increase speed and mix on medium high until light and airy, about 3 minutes. Add more powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached (I like my frosting to maintain it’s shape when I swipe my finger through it).
To frost cake:
Once cake is cooled, slice off any uneven tops to leave you with three level layers.
Place one layer on a cake board and dollop a large portion of frosting onto center, spread outward to edges. Top with another layer of cake and repeat process so that frosting is coming out from between the layers.
To crumb coat the cake: Place the third cake on top and begin to spread the excess frosting along the side and up onto the top of the cake, adding more frosting if necessary. Refrigerate for 30 minutes so frosting sets.
Cover the cake in whatever frosting remains. Reserve some frosting and color orane and green and use piping bags to create carrot border, if desired. Place cake back in fridge, removing at least 30 minutes before serving. Can be stored for up to three days.