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Drool-worthy Carrot Cake

If given a choice between cake and pie, I generally chose pie. Given a choice between cake or a cookie, I usually chose the cookie. The thing is, cake is not my favorite dessert. I find it’s usually too dry or has frosting made of shortening (shortening has just as many calories as butter or cream cheese, and butter/cream cheese tastes a million times better, people! Demand the real thing!)

I am salivating while looking at this. Quite literally.

But you put a carrot cake in front of me? Well, just watch your hands and fingers!

I freaking love carrot cake. Even a bad carrot cake is still good. And this recipe is the best carrot cake I have ever eaten! As a carrot cake connoisseur, I consider myself a pretty good judge of carrot cake. So trust.

That's my grandmother's silver cake plate. It's not quite level, but I think it's lovely.

I have given this a lot of thought: why I like carrot cake a TON but am not so fond of regular cake.

First, carrot cake is always moist. The carrots keep things from drying out. Too many cakes are too dry. This recipe also has crushed pineapple AND golden raisins, which keep this cake dense and (dare I say it?) juicy. Seriously, it’s beyond moist.

Second, carrot cake comes with cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting makes my heart flutter. And it makes cake phenomenal. My cream cheese frosting involves both cream cheese and real butter. Many people have never actually had real butter cream or real cream cheese frosting because many store bought cakes make their frosting with a shortening base. Yuck. It’s that waxy bright-white crap. Not good. And canned frosting also is not real butter.  Frosting is REALLY easy to make, and when homemade it’s ALWAYS more delicious than store bought. So please, take the time to make your own frosting. You won’t be sorry. OK. End of my fake-frosting rant.

Covered in rich cream cheese frosting.

3. It’s generally not sickly sweet. Much of the sweetness comes from the carrots, raisins and pineapple.

4. It’s got veggies in it, so it’s good for you, right? (Just let me have this one, ok?)

This is the same recipe that we used for my brother’s wedding cake. It was awesome then, and it’s awesome now.

My brother's wedding cake with antique heirloom cake topper from my grandma.

Make this cake. It’s not difficult, and it’s sublime.

I know you want to.

Drool-Worthy Carrot Cake Recipe

Adapted from Out of Our Kitchen Closets: San Francisco Gay Jewish Cooking

You will need:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups of carrots, peeled and grated

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup crushed pineapple

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (I prefer pecans)

The Steps

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 or 10 inch cake pans. (The cake in the picture is actually a 3 layer cake. I made 1 and a half recipes to make three layers).

2. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.

3. To the flour mixture add the eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar. Beat until well blended.

4. Fold in the carrots, raisins, pecans and pineapple.

5. Pour into pans and bake for 25-35 minutes. Begin testing at 25 minutes because ovens are different (my oven is crazy and I can never tell how long something will need to actually bake for, so I check it a lot). Bake until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely before frosting.

The Frosting

You will need:

8oz softened cream cheese (room temp)

8 oz softened butter (two sticks at room temp)

1 teaspoon vanilla

About 3 cups of powdered sugar

1 to 3 tablespoons of milk

The Steps

In large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until well-blended and whipped. Then add two cups of powdered sugar. Add a tablespoon of milk and blend. Keeping adding milk and sugar only as necessary until the frosting is the desired level of sweetness and the desired level of spreadability. I never have an exact science for this. It’s more of a feeling that you develop over time, but it’s fairly easy to do. If you end up with something too runny, add more sugar. If it’s too thick, add a little more milk.

Frost that cake. Cut yourself a huge slice. Enjoy!

Dog's eye view of the cake.



I am taking this cake to these parties:

Somewhat Simple

The Shabby Creek Cottage

Happy Hour Projects

Beyond the Picket Fence



I made mini-cakes! They are adorable and mini.

Here’s what I did – it was pretty easy and a fun way to make personalized desserts.

I made one recipe of my fave carrot cake (, and baked it in a 9×13 pan. Once baked and cooled, I wrapped the cake tightly in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for an hour or so.


Then I used a biscuit cutter to make little cake rounds. I cut all the cake rounds into two pieces. Each cake was then made with 3 layers – 1.5 times the thickness of the cake as baked originally. It is easier to cut each round in half individually than to try and cut the whole cake in half (into two layers) at once. Trust me.

I frosted these with lots of cream cheese frosting, chilling as I went so that the outer layer would harden. I added some marmalade to the middle for yummy filling.


I also rolled some in party sprinkles.

These were so yummy and pretty. Very easy, and very fun. I served them in cupcake wrappers, for ease of eating and mobility.

One note: While cream cheese frosting is clearly the most delicious frosting ever, it does not harden like a true buttercream, which can pose decorating challenges. For example, it is difficult to pipe designs with cream cheese frosting because the shapes begin to melt, while piped buttercream designs tend to hard and hold better. You may consider just using cream cheese frosting for the middle filling, and using buttercream for your decorations.


Another note: You may be wondering why I made mini-cakes instead of making cupcakes. You may think cupcakes and mini-cakes are the same. You would be wrong. The frosting-to-cake ratio in a cupcake is way off, in a way that really bothers me. Also, cupcakes tend to be drier, in my experience, since they are basically all corners. By making mini-cakes, you reduce the amount of heat exposed edges, which makes for more delicious moister cakes. Finally, I think fully frosted mini-cakes are more adorable than cupcakes, plain and simple.


Now go make some delicious and adorable mini-cakes.





Wedding Cake

When it comes to cakes, I can appreciate a beautiful fondant and the art that went into it, but I want my frosting to look like frosting. I want to see a cake and think it looks beautiful AND yummy.

As a poor law student, I couldn’t afford to buy my brother a wedding gift, so instead I made him a wedding cake.  A dear family friend made the best carrot cake ever, and my best friend, Amelia, and I did the rest.  The crumb layer on the cake is cream cheese frosting, and then we did another layer of half cream cheese, half butter cream on top. This is because cream cheese frosting can be a little runny, and I wanted the frosting to hold the peaks. We finished by decorating the cake with flowers (Note: all the flowers are edible (never put rhodedendrons or lilies on a cake – TOXIC!), but not all flowers are delicious).

The cake topper is the same ceramic cake topper that graced my Grandma’s cake many years ago. More recently, it was used by my Uncle Barry, and then it was used by my brother!

My father made the cake stand by attaching round pieces of ply wood to a wooden down. We actually had to cut the cakes in half to put them onto the layers, and then “patch” the cake back together with frosting.