Carrot cake wasn't even on my radar till I started dating my husband. His cake of choice was the Metropol Bakery's Carrot Cake up in Euguene. There wasn't an event in the city or birthday that passed without being celebrated with a tall slice of the flavorful cake.
A towering 3 layers, with rich velvety cream cheese, and enough chopped nuts to make a squirrel sing, it is the stuff of legends. So amazing, I am not even sure it would be worth trying to mimic. I don't really want to try. I did want to find a great carrot cake recipe that satisfied my desire for a flavorful and moist cake, while still being tall and lovely.
I think tall cakes just taste better.
I started collecting promising carrot cake recipes before my oldest was born. Sadly, none of them offered everything I wanted in my cake. The Cook's Illustrated recipe promised big, bold carrot flavor by using pureed carrot baby food, but it was a simple sheet cake. Southern Living had the tall part down, but lacked the spices to really create 'wow' my tastebuds. Still other recipes contained pineapple - which reminded me too much of a hummingbird cake.
So after a little bit of this and a dash of that I had a two-layer beauty that tasted rich and spicy as well as smooth and sweet. I may have obtained carrot cake nirvana.
The best part of this journey was being able to present a slice to my husband, a true carrot cake critic.
You Will Need:
- 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 2 Tbsp. buttermilk powder
- 3 large eggs
- 1 (4-oz.) can of carrot baby food
- 1 1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 c. canola oil
- 1 lb. carrot, finely shredded
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 c. shredded coconut
- 1/2 c. toasted pecans, roughly chopped
- 2 (8 oz.) package of cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 c. marshmallow cream
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2/3 c. powdered sugar
- Whole toasted pecans and shredded coconut for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2, 9" round baking pans and line with wax paper(I use convenient pre-cut rounds, but you can cut your own). Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the first 8 ingredients. Then in a stand mixer, mix together the eggs, baby food, brown sugar and canola oil until smooth. On low, add the flour mixture until just incorporated. Add vanilla, then fold in the shredded carrot, coconut and pecans.
Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the cream cheese frosting by beating together the cream cheese, marshmallow cream and vanilla till smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar till the frosting is thick but still spreadable.
Put one completely cooled cake layer on your serving plate then spread a little frosting on top. Invert the top layer (or cut off any excess) so you have a flat top. Working from the top, add frosting and gently push it down the sides. Go around the sides with a spatula to remove excess frosting. Press coconut to the sides and then garnish the top with whole toasted pecans.
Can I save you a slice?