This recipe for super moist carrot cake with creamy frosting yields a cake that is not only super moist, but it's also pretty darn easy to make. The frosting is very creamy, the cake itself loaded with fresh carrots, toasted walnuts, and cinnamon spice.
The making of Super Moist Carrot Cake with Creamy Frosting
I don't make desserts often, so when I do, I want them to be "healthy".
Carrot Cake is healthy, right?
I mean, it has carrots in it.
Three whole cups.
That's healthy, right?
Ok. Let's start over.
I don't make desserts often, so when I do, I want them to be delicious.
And this Super Moist Carrot Cake with Creamy Frosting is delicious.
Of that, you can be sure.
You may or may not remember my story of finding out, after 25 years of marriage that BB's favorite desserts were, Pineapple Upside Cake and Carrot Cake. I was so surprised as I always thought his favorite desserts were chocolate cake or pumpkin pie.
That's what we always had. Birthday cake. Thanksgiving and Christmas pie.
After I had this new information, I made my recipe up for Pineapple Macadamia Nut Upside-Down Cake, a total hit with the hubs and household, and tasting panel, so for our Easter dessert, I decided, what would be more appropriate than carrot cake?
I could think of nothing.
While investigating various recipes for carrot cake I found that there were pretty wide differences in how much carrot one might use. Some had only one cup of grated carrot; seemed rather skimpy to me. A few had four cups of shredded carrot; seemed rather generous to me. Most were three cups; that sounded just about right. So that's what I used.
I like buying multi-colored carrots. They are pretty easy to find anymore, and I love the way they present when used in a salad or cooked as a side. No matter the color of the carrot, they taste like carrots. So use either regular old orange or multi-colored ones. Just make sure they are fresh, not old dried-out carrots. This will affect the moisture in the cake, and we want it moist, not dry.
To make a quick task of grating them, I used my shredder disc and my food processor. This keeps the carrot pieces a little thicker than if you used a box grater, which allows the carrots to be seen more in the cake. But either process. shredder or box grater will get the job done. If you use a spiralizer, you will need to rough chop them before putting them into the batter.
The Other Players
I used all-purpose white flour. You could use that, or part white and part whole wheat. If you are going gluten-free, use gluten-free all-purpose flour. I'm not sure how almond or oatmeal flours might work, I suppose in today's world they would work just fine. If you are used to baking with them or have had success using these flours in baking, then I see no reason why you couldn't continue to do so.
I like to mix my sugars in baking as I find white granulated sugar adds the necessary sweetness, but brown sugar adds an additional depth of flavor. I wouldn't use all brown sugar, but if you want to use all granulated you could.
When it comes to spice, there were also large differences in amounts, from 1 - 3 teaspoons of cinnamon. Again I went middle ground and thought it was a perfect amount. I added nutmeg for just a little bit of roundness.
Recipes also varied as far as using nuts, or not. Adding raisins, or not. Adding pineapple, or not. I like nuts, so I added. Walnuts, toasted and chopped. Pecans would be nice too. I did not want raisins, so I did not add, nor pineapple. I wanted it to taste like carrot cake. And it does.
You might note that in my ingredients I always say "pure vanilla extract". I say this, and I mean this sincerely, if you are using imitation vanilla extract, STOP IT! Get the real stuff. Get the good stuff. Imitation vanilla may contain a hint of vanillin, which is derived from vanilla beans but the majority of it is usually lignin, which is a wood pulp byproduct. Do you want to eat a wood pulp byproduct? I didn't think so.
Yes, pure vanilla extract is more expensive, but that's because it's real. From vanilla beans. And you don't use that much. You can find pure vanilla extract for less than you might think, try looking at Trader Joe's, or find Mexican vanilla extract at a local Mexican market. I have also had good luck at World Market. And I believe Costco and Sam's Clubs sell it by the gallon, so if you really use it a lot, get it there ...
I made my cake as a double-layer cake. You could make it also as a sheet cake. Or cupcakes. The only difference would be the oven time. Sheet cake might take a little longer, cupcakes would take less time. No matter how you make it, be sure to grease and flour and if making that double layer cake, parchment paper your pan. I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to turn a cake out of the pan after baking only to have part of it stick to the pan.
So I would much rather overdo my pan prep, than underdo it.
Neither too sweet, or too tart. I think the frosting has a nice balance with a good cream cheese flavor. Yes, I used full-fat cream cheese. If you wanted to use a reduced-fat product, it would work, but you know that they replace that fat with something else right? Usually sugar. So if you want to watch out for your non-diabetic future, use real, full-fat products, just use them sparingly.
My recipe made JUST enough to frost the double-layer cake. If I had made a sheet cake, it would have been more than enough, cupcakes, the same. So if you want to make a double layer cake, AND you like a lot of frosting, make a double batch, or at least 1 ½ times as much. The amount of frosting was perfect for us, but that's what I love about cooking, you can eat it as you love it.
So show some love! Make this delicious "healthy" Super Moist Carrot Cake with Creamy Frosting..
Super Moist Carrot Cake with Creamy Frosting
- For the Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour 260grams
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil I used ½ mild olive oil, ½ grapeseed oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar 200 grams
- 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar 200 grams
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 3 cups 5 - 6 medium carrots peeled and grated (300 grams) for best results use fresh carrots, not old carrots
- 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnut pieces
- For the Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature (225 grams)
- 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar 140 grams
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Additional toasted walnuts to top if desired
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare the Cake Batter: Prepare two 8 (or 9) inch round cake pans by greasing the bottom and sides with softened butter or shortening, then put a round of parchment paper on top. Spray the parchment with cooking spray then lightly dust parchment and sides with flour. Set-aside.
- n a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; whisk or sift until blended.
- In a large bowl or the work bowl of your stand-up mixer, combine the oil and sugars using a medium-low speed on either your standing mixer or a hand mixer. Combine the vanilla with the eggs and add, one egg at a time, to the mix of oil and sugar making sure the egg is blended in before adding the next one. Once the eggs are incorporated, slowly add the dry ingredients and continue to mix, at medium-low speed, until combined and the batter is smooth. Stir in the carrots and walnuts, mix to combine.
- Divide the batter between the prepared cake pans and place in the middle of the preheated oven; bake until the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center, or when a toothpick, inserted in the center, comes out clean., 35 to 45 minutes.
- Cool cakes in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack, remove the parchment paper, and allow the cakes to cool completely.
- Prepare the Frosting: Using your hand mixer and a large bowl or work bowl of your free-standing mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy; beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Add the cream and beat for about 1 minute. Chill until ready to use.