You know what gets a bad rap in my opinion ? The carrot cake. People hear carrot and crinkle their noses. And when I say people, I’m also referring to my former self.
When I was out of state training for my insurance job back in the day, a former co-worker ordered a slice of carrot cake while at dinner one night. “Carrot cake?!” I exclaimed. This guy was from North Carolina and loved him some carrot cake. And when I say he loved carrot cake, he was prepared to go to battle to defend his cake of choice. Which got me thinking, why was it that I didn’t like carrot cake? Was it merely the name? And then it got me further thinking, had I truly not ever had a piece of carrot cake??
My mother didn’t bake. I can recall only a handful of times that she made a cobbler or two with the fresh blackberries that would pop up along the fence line. My mother’s mother baked occasionally but I can’t recall her ever making a carrot cake either. My father’s mother didn’t really cook or bake and when she would take me out to dinner and allow a dessert selection, I wasn’t choosing anything with the word carrot in it. Therefore, it is quite possible that I was in my 20’s and had NEVER had carrot cake until that fateful dinner in Jacksonville, Florida with the guy from North Carolina who swore by his beloved carrot cake.
One bite and I was inquisitive. Two bites and I was sold.
Tastes nothing like carrots!
Nearly 10 tens later, I’m cranking out a multi layer naked carrot cake that will stop you in your tracks.
Deliciously moist and if the irresistibly decadent cream cheese layers don’t call out your name, nothing will.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1½ cup vegetable oil
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2½ cups finely grated peeled carrots (a 1 pound bag)
- ½ cup seedless raisins
- 1 cup walnut pieces, chopped
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- * This recipe will make 3 9 inch layers. I used 8 inch pans to get the thinner 5 layers. *
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly spray three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with non stick cooking spray, then line bottom of pans with waxed paper. Spray the waxed paper, too and set aside.
- Using electric mixer, beat sugar and oil until combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and then gradually add into the sugar and oil mixture. Stir in raisins and grated carrots. Mix well.
- Pour the batter into prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake 40-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean and cakes begin to pull away from sides of pans. Cool in pans on racks 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks and cool completely.
- Using an electric mixer, beat all ingredients until smooth and creamy.
- Place 1 cake layer on cake stand and spread with ¾ cup frosting. Top with another cake layer. Spread with ¾ cup frosting. Repeat until you get to the top and run out of layers. Top with remaining cake layer. Using icing spatula, spread remaining frosting on top of the cake, then sprinkle the chopped walnuts.
Now, there are variety of ways you could change up the recipe. For starters, I left the sides of my cake “naked” because I always swoon when I see a naked cake on Pinterest. I also omitted chopped nuts from the batter the cake and instead opted for chopped walnuts on top of the cake. I was going for presentation but the cake tastes the same if you would like to add the nuts to the batter and instead frost the sides and top with the nuts. If you want to use pecans rather than walnuts, then go for it!
I adorned the cake with some pink flowers to make it Valentine’s Day appropriate, but I could totally see using pale yellows or soft pink roses for a baby shower, dark red for anniversaries, and maybe even all white for a really neutral and stunning cake.
The sky is the limit and I’m so glad I was brave enough to try the carrot cake. I won’t be turning back anytime soon.
Do you have something you thought you’d hate but turned into something you’d love?