Carrot [Cake] Love

When I was little—ok, let’s be honest, she still does it sometimes—my dear sweet mother would make my lunch every single day.  I used to beg to be able to buy the school lunch, desperate to stand on line and slide my compartmentalized plastic gray tray along the food line and point to the things I wanted like the older kids.  I wanted to carry my tray across the cafeteria and plop down next to my friends and pretend to complain about having to eat whatever they used to serve in the cafeteria of Ogden Elementary, likely canned spaghetti and boxed mashed potatoes, while they ate bologna sandwiches on Wonder bread.  

What my mother put in my lunches is a story for another day, but the part I really liked, the part that I went for first—and I’m not kidding when I say this—were the carrots. I very rarely got bags of chips, sometimes there’d be a cookie, but there was always a bag of carrots that I would dive into, nibbling out the middle section before chomping my way through the perfectly cut sticks.  Because that was the thing: every morning as she drank her coffee, my mother would peel and cut a carrot into perfectly even sticks.  This went on well into high school, the peeling and cutting of carrots for me.  I attribute the fact that I don’t wear glasses to this little bit of love.

I rarely eat carrots now, though, unless it’s in the form of a cake.  And most store bought or restaurant carrot cakes have nuts and I’m allergic to them, so I spend a good deal of time going carrot deprived.  When I finally do find a nutless carrot cake, it is either dry and similar to eating sugared sawdust, or so oily you think that you would have been better off licking the wrapper of a stick of butter.

A few weeks ago, I sampled one of the best carrot cakes I’ve had and the baker was sweet enough to send me the recipe.  It’s moist, not too sweet and not the least bit oily (despite the amount of vegetable oil in the recipe, which could likely be replaced with applesauce, but I’ve never done that and I’m distrustful of the whole applesauce over oil thing, but you know, give it a go if you want….). 

Oh, special to Mom: thanks for peeling all those carrots over the years, because I only peeled 10 for this recipe and it was 20 kinds of not fun. 

Carrot Cake Recipe (my notes and tweaks in red):


Ø        2 cups all purpose flour

Ø        2 teaspoons baking soda

Ø        2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I used 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon allspice)

Ø        ½ teaspoon salt

Ø        1-½ cups sugar (I used ¾ cup white sugar and ¾ cup brown sugar)

Ø        3 large eggs

Ø        ¾ cup buttermilk

Ø        1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ø        2 cups peeled and coarsely grated carrots (This amounted to about 10 medium sized carrots. I cut them into chunks and threw them in the blender to grate)

Ø        1-½ sweetened flaked coconut (omitted)

Ø        1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple in juice (omitted this, but substituted ¾ cup apple juice for sweetness and liquid)


Ø        1-½  8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature

Ø        1 1-pound box powdered sugar

Ø        Note: the recipe called for ½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1-½ teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. This seemed overkill to me, especially the butter, so I just used the first two ingredients.

Cake/Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Brush 13x9x2 inch metal baking pan with vegetable oil or spray; dust with flour. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Beat sugar, eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla in large bowl until smooth. Beat in dry ingredients. Fold in carrots, coconut (if using) and pineapple with juice (or apple juice). I used my Kitchen Aid on speed 2 to mix the batter. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake 30 minutes. Tent loosely with foil.  Continue to bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes longer.  Remove from oven. Can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and chill.

Frosting/Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until fluffy.  Add powdered sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon; beat until blended.  Spread frosting over cooled cake in pan.  I softened the cream cheese in the microwave for 20 seconds and then stirred in the powdered sugar.  I tested for sweetness as I went along, so I didn’t end up using the entire box of sugar.


2 Responses to Carrot [Cake] Love

  1. Pingback: Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce « Pestle Mortar

  2. Pingback: Caramel Apples « Pestle Mortar

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