Hands-down, my most requested recipe is my carrot cake. It’s a cake that my mom has made several thousand times (well … that may be a slight exaggeration … or maybe not … ). My mom got the recipe from a family friend who got it from a friend. Even people who “don’t like carrot cake” say that they love this recipe. A gluten-free friend even asked for the recipe so she could try and alter it for her needs. I’m always happy to share because I also think it is the best carrot cake recipe.
The original recipe called for it to be baked in three 8- or 9-inch round cake pans, making a traditional 3-layer cake. Over the years, we have changed it up a bit. For larger parties, my mom will bake it in a large cookie sheet and make a 2-layer rectangular cake. For example, here, for Maya’s second birthday party:
Several times, I have made carrot cake cupcakes, which are great because there’s no cutting, plates, or forks involved. Just recently, however, a friend asked for contributions for their wedding dessert table. They want an assortment of smaller desserts, so I thought mini cupcakes would be perfect. The frosting is rich, so with an assortment of other desserts, whole cupcakes would probably be too large. Here’s the run-down:
- 2 cups sifted flour (I use 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup wheat)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 3 cups grated carrots (4-7 carrots, depending on size)
Frosting Ingredients (full amount)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 8 ounce package cream cheese
- 1 cup chopped pecans (use a cutting board and knife or the food processor)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- up to 1 pound box (about 3 1/2 cups) of powdered sugar, sifted
Prepare the carrots by wiping them down. You can peel them if you want, but I never bother anymore. You can either grate them on a box grater, chop them up by hand, or use the food processor.
Mix the dry ingredients together. Add oil and beaten eggs.
Curious George says, “Mmm … when can I eat that?”
Fold in the grated carrots.
Important: It will not come out of a pan cleanly unless it has been well-prepared with wax paper. If you want to make a traditional round cake, use the cake pans as a stencil to make 3 wax paper circles. Place these circles in the bottom of each pan and be sure to grease the pan and the wax paper, concentrating on the sides and corners. If you are using a larger cookie sheet, do the same. For cupcakes, use cupcake liners. If you want the design on the cupcake liner to show after the cupcakes have baked, then bake them in plain white cupcake liners. Then, after the cupcakes have cooled, place them into the pretty liners (without removing the paper the cupcakes were baked in). The oil in the recipe causes the designs to disappear.
When making cupcakes, either regular-sized or mini, fill the cups 3/4 full. Bake at 325 for 35 minutes. I have found that the standard round cake, rectangular cake, cupcake, and the mini cupcake all take 35 minutes. Interesting. (Remember that all ovens are different, so you need to figure out what works for you.)
Here are my minis cooling on a rack.
Now, on to the frosting! If you are going to make a 3-layer cake, use the full amount in the ingredients list above. If you are making cupcakes, cut the amounts in half:
- 1/4 cup butter
- 4 ounce package cream cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans (use a cutting board and knife or the food processor)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Cream the butter and cream cheese together. Add the pecans, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Mix until the frosting comes together. I don’t add all the powdered sugar at once in case it gets too thick. If it does get too thick, though, you can always add a few drops of milk to thin it to spreading consistency.
Frost a cake the regular way, using a knife. For cupcakes, I like to use a piping bag. Look how cute these minis are! Enjoy!