Carrot Cake with Perfect Cream Cheese Frosting

Want to know why people love carrot cake?

Cream cheese frosting.

Let’s be honest with ourselves now. Carrot cake is a great idea. A cake that gets its moist texture from vegetables? Genius! But would you eat it without cream cheese frosting?

Would you really?Because I most certainly would not. I judge a carrot cake by the quality of its frosting. I have yet to taste just the cake part and say “Wow! This carrot cake is so good, it’s completely discernable from every other carrot cake I’ve ever had!”.

But I have tasted carrot cakes and said to myself, “Wow, this frosting is not that great. or “WOW! What the heck is in this frosting? I could eat that with a spoon!”

So let me bring you now, a carrot cake that packs a double punch. This cake is deliciously moist, not too dense, or oily, and comes paired with with a perfectly tangy-sweet, thick cream cheese frosting.

Mmmm…cream cheese frosting…

Recipe from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook

Cake Ingredients (makes a double layer cake):

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and grated (about 3 cups)

Frosting Ingredients (makes 4 cups of frosting):

  • 2 eight oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened and cut into chunks
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Directions for the cake:

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8 inch round cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cloves together in a medium bowl.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugars together until the sugars and mostly dissolved and the mixture is frothy. Continue to whisk, while slowly drizzling in the oil, until throughly combined and emulsified. Whisk in the flour mixture until just incorporated, then stir in the carrots.

3. Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined. scrape the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops, and lightly tapping the pans against the counter top two or three times to settle the batter. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.

4. Cool the cake completely in the pans, set on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Run a small knife around the edge of the cake and flip the cakes out onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper, and spread about 1/2 inch thick layer of frosting on top of one cake. Place the second cake on top of the frosting layer, and completely frost the top and sides of your cake with the remaining frosting.

Directions for the frosting:

1. Beat the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, about 4 minutes.

2. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low, and slowly add the powdered sugar, beating until smooth, or about 4-6 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffly, for another 4-6 minutes.

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