Update 4/2011: Well, I’ve successfully been making this carrot cake for the last three years and except for this sheet cake variation, which is delicious in it’s own right, I haven’t met a carrot cake I love more than this one. Moist (oh so moist!), flavorful and just absolutely classic and fantastic, this carrot cake graces our Easter dinner table every year – and several times throughout the year when I get the itch to make carrot cake…again.
It is stunning and elegant, in it’s double layer form, and the frosting – well, I could wax poetic about the dreamy stuff. Whipped and creamy with just the slightest enhanced flavor from the dollop of sour cream, this frosting is the best straight-up cream cheese frosting in my repertoire.
Even though over and over again I claim chocolate to be my dessert (dinner??) of choice, there is something about the combination of carrot cake and cream cheese frosting that just gets me every time.
I always make this cake in two 9-inch round pans. I double the frosting recipe to accommodate the extra layers. If making in a 9X13-inch pan, you can leave the frosting amounts the same to cover the top of the cake.
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 lb. medium carrots (6 to 7 large carrots), peeled
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 5 tablespoons butter softened to room temperature
- 1 tablespoon sour cream, light or regular
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (4 1/2 ounces)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Grease and flour a 9X13-inch baking pan or 2 9-inch round pans.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside. In a food processor fitted with large or fine shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. You can also shred by hand on a box grater if you don't have a food processor.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in large bowl and using hand-held mixer), beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds. Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer. Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
- Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 32 minutes for 9-inch round pans and 40 minutes for a 9X13-inch pan. Let cakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then invert them onto a cooling rack to cool completely (the 9X13-inch cake can be cooled completely in the pan if you don't plan to invert and ice all the sides). At this point, once the cakes are cooled, they can be wrapped in plastic wrap and put in a ziploc bag and placed in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature prior to frosting.
- When cake is cool, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla at medium high speed in clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment (or in large bowl using handheld mixer) until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute. Frost and eat!
Recipe Source: Cooks Illustrated (with my notes included)