Are you wondering what to do with all of those carrots you have in your fridge or are you just craving a delicious carrot cake? People usually either love carrot cake of they hate it. I love them. I found out that historians tell us that the origins of carrot cake were likely a type of carrot pudding enjoyed during medieval times. Later sweetening agents were hard to come by in Britain and quite expensive, so as a result, carrots were often used in place of sweeteners.
Most all carrot cake recipes have a core group of ingredients in common, which are flour, sugar, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, salt), baking soda/powder, butter or oil, nuts, and of course carrots. But there are folks that put other things into their cake like: pumpkin, coconut, figs, chocolate chips, oranges, zucchini, ginger, beetroot, sweet potatoes, or papaya. If you have a recipe with one of those ingredients in your carrot cake I would love to hear about it. I like my carrot cake basic but would be eager to try something different.
In terms of carrot cake frostings, some people still prefer their carrot cake plain like me, although you will still see a lot of recipes for the traditional cream-cheese frosting. Other carrot cake toppings folks like are Greek yogurt that is lightly sweetened, buttermilk glaze with a zest of lemon, Royal icing, and chocolate icing.
Then there are many variations of things folks do with their recipe, the amount of carrots they put into a carrot cake recipe will affect both the texture and taste of the cake, using pureed carrots as opposed to shredding raw carrots will give your carrot cake a much more moist consistency, use oil instead of butter, use the zest of one orange in the batter for a zippier consistency.
I like my basic carrot cake recipe and I can tell you that I found this great recipe called Laurie’s Amazing Carrot Cake on A Bountiful Kitchen. That recipe was made for a wedding cake so not only did I split it the recipe in half but I also made it with walnuts and golden raisins, and it turned out amazing. Her secret to a moist, but not too greasy carrot cake is buttermilk and lots of carrots. I can tell you it was moist. I made this cake as a bunt cake but I am sure you can make it in any pan you wish.
I am not a huge fan of frosting and usually like my carrot cakes plain but I wanted to try a new frosting, so I made a Cream Cheese Frosting from Simply Recipes and added coconut in it. It was one of the variations to the recipe. I only put a thin layer of frosting on the cake but it was good, I am sure you can add as must frosting as you wish.
Adapted from: A Bountiful Kitchen
1 ¾ cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cups buttermilk
½ tbsp salt
2 tsp soda
2 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground cloves
3 cups grated carrots (4 medium carrots)
1 cup walnuts
2 ¼ cups flour
1 cup raisins
Beat the eggs, oil and buttermilk together in a large bowl. Grind the pecans and raisins in a food processor with a metal blade. Pulse until chopped into very small pieces. Add all of the dry ingredients, including the nuts and raisins to the wet ingredients. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Pour into greased and floured bunt pan, only fill pan 3/4 full. Bake at 325 F degrees for about 50 minutes. Test with toothpick to see if done before removing from oven.
Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from: Simply Recipes
1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), cold
2-3 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
With an electric mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding until you get to desired sweetness and thickness. Either spread on with a blunt knife or spatula, or spoon into a piping bag to decorate your cake or cupcake.
Adding a teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice is always great for exotic chocolate cakes.
Adding freshly ground ginger helps spice up a carrot cake.
Freshly ground chai spice or even the contents of a bag of earl grey tea are heady and aromatic.
The scrapings from a vanilla bean can be very sweet and heavenly for red velvet or dark chocolate cakes.
Freshly grated or dried, flaked coconut mixed in makes it perfect for a coconut cake.