Carrot Cake is one of those desserts that, frankly, I make for the frosting. There is just something so scrumptious about a sweet cream cheese frosting that I could (almost) eat it with a spoon. I have tweaked different recipes to suit my Carrot Cake tastes – I do not care for raisins (which many recipes include) IN things. Tweak this recipe as you wish too! If you like raisins, add 1/2 to 1 cup. If you would like more nuts, press 1 cup of chopped pecans into the frosting (you can toast them as well). Also, instead of applesauce, crushed pineapple can be used. There are many options to make it to your liking as well.
1 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs (room temperature)
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 t vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/4 ground cloves
2 cups finely, fresh grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper (cut to fit inside) and grease parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce and vanilla together until no brown sugar lumps remain.
In a slightly larger bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, fold the ingredients together until just combined. Fold in the carrots and pecans.
Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans and bake for 30-35 minutes. Test the center with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the cakes are done. If not, continue to bake until cooked through, rechecking with a new toothpick every 2-3 minutes. When done, remove from oven to wire racks and allow to fully cool in pans. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting.
Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until smooth. Add confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup at a time, vanilla and salt. Beat on low for 1 minute then increase speed to high and beat until completely combined and creamy. Add more confectioner’s sugar or place bowl in refrigerator for 30 minutes if frosting is too thin. Add a little milk if frosting is too thick. Frosting should be soft but not runny.
Assemble and Frost: Place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. (I have a Rubbermaid Lazy Susan that works very well for icing and serving cakes if a fancy presentation isn’t necessary.) Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with second layer and cover top and sides with frosting. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides. (When icing a two-layer cake, I sometimes score the frosting in the bowl into thirds and use each third for each of the two layers and the sides. This method ensures a more even distribution of frosting.) Refrigerate cake for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Place a sheet of waxed paper on cut edges of remaining cake and store in refrigerator.