Carrot cake, if I’m honest with myself, is the cake that I measure all other cakes against. For me, it’s the perfect mix: the cake part is rich and chewy and hearty, often with some great add-ins like raisins or walnuts; the icing is creamy and sweet and clean without being fluffy and boring like so many store-bought cakes. It’s everything I want in a dessert, and when other cakes fall short on any of my carrot cake criteria, I’m secretly disappointed.
Growing up, carrot cake was one of the favorite birthday cake choices for members of my family, so I’m used to liking it just the way my mom made it. You know how it is. I have unfortunately, in times of desperation, deceived myself into believing that the box mix versions would be roughly equivalent, but I immediately regretted my foolishness when faced by a fluffy, bland, orange impostor. Don’t make the same mistake; you need to make this yourself from scratch.
The recipe here is the same one my mom always uses, with some of the sugar taken out. The reason for the adjustment is that we found the icing to be sweet enough on its own to make it a little unnecessary to have the cake itself packed with so much sugar as well. We substituted applesauce for most of the oil for basically the same reason. You can even take some of the sugar out of the icing as well; the main difference you’ll notice is in the texture (it’ll set creamier when cooled) rather than the flavor.
As for the raisins and walnuts, obviously that’s up to you, but they’re what sells it for me. I made this recipe when I was living in Mexico, and strangely the only raisins they sold there were HUGE. They sank to the bottom and my cake had a weird base layer of giant raisins. It was still worth it.
Carrot Cake Recipe
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 cups sugar (originally 2 cups)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup applesauce (you can substitute some yogurt or buttermilk as well)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 cups finely grated carrots
optional: raisins and walnuts, roughly 1/2 cup each
1 lb confectioner’s sugar (we used less)
8oz cream cheese
2 tablespoons butter
2 tsp vanilla
Lots of ingredients, but it’s an easy recipe. Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, sugar, cinnamon, salt) in a large bowl.
Then, mix the wet ingredients (applesauce, oil, eggs, and grated carrots) and mix into the dry mixture.
Add the walnuts and raisins and fold in gently. A cool trick is to microwave the raisins in a little water (or rum or something) before mixing them in, so they plump up a little.
Pour the batter (it’ll be runny) into a greased pan and bake at 350 until it’s done (around 30 minutes).
Meanwhile, make the icing. With a mixer (I like using an electric hand mixer) mix together the cream cheese, sugar, butter, and vanilla. It probably will go easier if the cream cheese is softened somewhat.
Once the carrot cake is cooled a little, spread the icing evenly over the top and serve.
There you go! One of my favorite cakes in the world, so you better enjoy it!
Peace out, foodies.