carrot cake magic

For my dad’s birthday this past weekend, he told me that the only thing he wanted was for me to make him a carrot cake (from scratch)…

I love to cook and occasionally try my hand at making cookies, breads, etc. but with mixed results. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve not always nailed the art and soul of baking… I was actually really nervous to make a carrot cake as I’ve always heard it’s not the easiest to make and my family is pretty straight forward and honest when it comes to food. It’s either great or it’s not!

With the pressure on, I got to work researching varying techniques and spice combinations. After a few hours, I put together a list of ingredients and got cracking! The end result was such an amazing surprise. Everyone really loved the cake and I felt more encouraged than ever to continue baking and sharing recipes on here. See below for the details!

Hope you enjoy! xx


Ingredients:

CAKE

  • 3 cups chopped pecans (I mixed with pistachios as I didn’t have 3 full cups)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup coconut oil (melted to liquid)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups grated carrots

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 16 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F (149°C) degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Spread the chopped pecans on the sheet and toast for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  2. Turn the oven up to 350°F (177°C). Spray two 9-inch cake pans* with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla together until combined and no brown sugar lumps remain. Set aside. In another large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, fold the ingredients together until just combined. Then, fold in the carrots and 1 cup of the toasted pecans. The rest of the pecans are used in step 6.
  4. Pour/spoon the batter evenly into the two cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack.
  5. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and 2 Tablespoons of cream. Beat for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and 1 more Tablespoon cream if needed to thin out. Beat on high for 2 full minutes. Taste the frosting and add a pinch of salt if it is too sweet.
  6. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and spread remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Decorate the sides of the cake with the remaining toasted pecans. Slice and serve.
  7. Cover extras up tightly and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Unfrosted cake remains fresh covered tightly at room temperature for 3-4 days. Store frosted cake in the refrigerator for up to 7 days and allow to come to room temperature before serving.
  8. Make ahead tip: Prepare cakes and frosting 1 day in advance. Keep cakes at room temperature, covered tightly. Refrigerate prepared frosting in an airtight container until ready to use. Frosted or unfrosted cakes may be frozen up to 2 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature if desired before serving.
The Setting