Chances are unless you have been living under a rock for your entire life, you have probably had carrot cake. It’s a common favorite….in fact it’s actually one of my favorites, yet somehow I have never made it. Odd I know. Well, the boyfriend requested it, and all of a sudden I found myself obsessed with looking for the perfect recipe. I am here to announce I think I have.
Thank you David Lebovitz, you are once again amazing.
I made the cake itself the day before I was intending to serve it and iced it the morning of. The boyfriend and our neighbor were sitting on the couch while I was baking, and as I finished I retreated into the living room with a glass of wine and casually asked if they liked raisins in their carrot cake. The response was not wonderful- I got a lot of wrinkled noses, as well as “Why didn’t you ask us this before you put raisins in it!” to which my response was, “Maybe you should bake your own cake next time”. By the way, they are golden raisins. I wouldn’t want purple raisins in this cake either.
Joke was on them though- everyone LOVED it. You might think raisins are gross, and I will even agree with you most of the time, but I am a big fan of golden raisins in cooking. They add just a hint of sweetness and moisture without an overwhelming flavor. Yes, you will know they are there, this is not a magic trick…but I promise you will surprise yourself with how much you actually like them.
There is another trick to this recipe- brown butter. Brown butter is absolutely fabulous; I use it in quite a few desserts. It adds a wonderful caramel richness to whatever you’re making. It is relatively easy to make, but if you don’t feel up to it you can always just sub out regular melted butter or cooking oil.
OH and the frosting…mmm…the frosting. Who doesn’t love cream cheese frosting? In the past I have occasionally had trouble with cream cheese frostings being a bit on the runny side. For those of you who have made cream cheese frosting before; if it’s runny and you just add more powdered sugar, it doesn’t always fix the problem, it just makes it sweeter. This, however, is the perfect ratio and held up beautifully for days.
This recipe is modified from David Lebovitz’s.
Ingredients for the cake:
4 large eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil
¾ cup melted brown butter, or more oil (see note at the bottom)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbs cinnamon
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
4 cups loosely packed grated carrots (about 6-7 medium, but it all depends on size)
½ cup golden raisins, optional (but you should just use them)
Method for the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease two 8 to 9 inch cake pans, or one 9X13 pan (preferably metal as it will bake better). If you are using 2 cake pans with the intention of making a layer cake, line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper for easier removal (trust me, as a person who has made a lot of cakes this makes a HUGE difference).
Sift together flour, sugar, spice, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. With a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the eggs until they are pale and frothy (about 2 minutes). With the mixer running, drizzle in the oil and melted butter, then the vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients to the eggs and mix carefully until they are just combined. Fold in the carrots and the raisins and pour into your desired cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes for 2 round pans, and 40-45 minutes for a 9X13. When it’s done the surface should spring back lightly when gently touched, and a toothpick will come out with a few crumbs. Cool the cakes completely before frosting.
1 lb cream cheese at room temperature
4 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
A few drops of vanilla extract
Method for frosting:
Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar (do this on a low speed to avoid a dust cloud) and mix until lightly silky. I used 2.5 cups, but adjust to your liking. Add the vanilla and mix again.
Frost your cake as desired, and top with chopped walnuts if you like.
This cake is best served at room temperature, but can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days. I left mine on the counter and ate the rest for breakfast in the morning.
A few notes:
How to brown butter: Chop up your butter so that it melts more quickly and evenly, and then cook it in a small sauce pan on medium heat until it…well…browns. This is a delicate process, but once you’ve done it you will be familiar with that caramel smell it produces, and exactly what it smells like when you took it a minute too far and burnt it. It will take at least a few minutes, and it will start to boil and foam up just before it gets to the brown stage. It is completed when you can see and overall caramel color and flecks of brown. Make sure when you remove your butter from the pan you scrape out all the bits, those are the delicious parts.
There are plans in the works for a tutorial sometime soon.
Next plan- carrot cake muffins….this can be healthy right?