David and I are celebrating our second anniversary today — yay! As part of the celebration, I thought it’d be fun to make carrot cake, which was the top tier of our wedding cake. I’d actually never made carrot cake before, despite it being one of my favorite types. But I knew exactly what I wanted — moist but not too oily, tons of carrots, nuts and raisins but no pineapple or coconut, and — of course — delicious cream cheese frosting.
For the cake, I reviewed dozens of recipes before settling on the Flour Bakery one as my starting point. For the frosting, I went with the recipe used on our original wedding cake — a white chocolate cream cheese concoction from The Cake Bible. White chocolate may sound like a strange match for a carrot cake, but it really works nicely — the chocolate lends a rounder, richer flavor compared to just plain icing sugar; and a touch of lemon juice provides the perfect tang. This frosting is definitely decadent — I frosted the cake conservatively (with about half a cup left over), and that was rich enough for my taste.
Adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang | Makes one 2-layer, 8-inch cake
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (360g) light brown sugar
- 1 cup (200g) canola oil
- 3 tbsp buttermilk, room temperature
- 1/4 cup (70g) Greek yogurt, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups (320g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 4 cups (520g) grated carrot, tightly packed (about 4 medium)
- 1 cup (160g) raisins, soaked for at least 1 hour in boiling water and drained
- 1 cup (100g) toasted walnuts, chopped (100g)
- Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 2 8-inch cake pan and line the bottoms with parchment paper; then lightly grease parchment.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the eggs and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 3–4 minutes, or until the mixture is light and thick. (This step will take 8–10 minutes if using a handheld mixer.) In a small bowl or pitcher, whisk together the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. On low speed, slowly pour the oil mixture into the egg-sugar mixture. This should take about 30 seconds.
- In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the egg-sugar mixture. When most of the flour mixture has been incorporated, add the carrots, raisins, and walnuts and continue to fold until the batter is homogeneous. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and spring back when pressed in the middle with a fingertip. Let cool completely in the pans on a wire rack. Refrigerate or freeze cake rounds until ready to frost.
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from The Cake Bible | Makes enough to frost one 8-inch, 2 layer cake
- 9 ounces (255 grams) good-quality white chocolate, chopped
- 12 ounces (340 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tbsp (23 grams) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between. When the chocolate is almost all melted, allow the residual heat to complete the melting. Cool to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in the lemon juice and melted chocolate. Use immediately to frost cakes (can be refrigerated up to 2 weeks ahead; bring to room temperature before using).
Allow cake rounds to chill completely. Level if necessary. Set one layer on a cake round or platter and spread with a thin layer of frosting (about 1/2 – 3/4 cup). Set the other layer on top; spread a thin layer of frosting over the top and sides. Chill for at least half an hour before spreading a heavier layer of frosting over the entire cake. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. Cake keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.