What I really love about the recipe is that you don’t have to peel any carrots. Yes. You heard me right. Keep that peeler in the drawer people. All you need is a bag of baby carrots and you are on your way to a slice of heaven.
I had about 2 cups of powdered sugar, 1 1/2 cups of white sugar, 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 bars of cream cheese in the fridge. So here’s what I did. Flew by the seat of my pants. Guess what? It all turned out fine and lo and behold ……the carrot cake of “my lack of ingredient dreams” ensued.
I also know that people have strong opinions about the “mix-ins” for their carrot cake, to which I say…MIX IN WHATEVER YOUR HEART DESIRES. Prefer walnuts over pecans? Throw em’ in. Someone has a nut allergy? Leave em’ out. If you’re like me and love raisins in your carrot cake slice? Add ’em. Think pineapple doesn’t belong in a carrot cake or for that matter anywhere near your pizza slice? Leave it out. What about shredded coconut? Some hate it. Some love it. If you happen to love it. Throw it in.
This is like a choose-your-own-weapons carrot cake. There is no wrong or right with any of the mix-ins here – just make sure you add in the carrots or it won’t be a carrot cake.
And the other thing is…..this cake is made in a 9′ x 13′ pan. There is nothing wrong with using any other size pan if you choose to do so. Baking time is actually about the same no matter what you use. Just be sure to check it with a toothpick for doneness at the earliest bake time. A sheet pan cake is also my way of getting out of frosting two layers of cake. I’m so lazy when it comes to fussing and frosting.
And speaking about frosting. I mean. Cream Cheese Frosting and Carrot Cake go together like soap and water and God knows we are using a lot of those two things these days.
I happen to make the actual best cream cheese frosting in the world. This is my go-to recipe that I love and always use for for my banana cake. It’s perfectly fluffy and it spreads on like a dream swirls and all. If anyone feels that they just don’t want to top this cake with a cream cheese frosting I’m not going to judge you. Personally I think it’s A MUST but practically I have to admit, this cake is so good it doesn’t even need the frosting. SAY WHAT? I can’t even believe I would say such a thing. Carrot cake needs cream cheese frosting.
- 1½ cups granulated sugar (you can also do 1 cup white + 1 cup brown sugar)
- 1¼ cups oil
- 4 extra large eggs
- 1 lb package baby carrots
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1½ tsps kosher salt
- 2½ tsps cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- optional add-ins - ½ cup golden raisins, ½ chopped pecans or walnuts, ¼ cup shredded coconut 1 cup crushed pineapple (well drained)
- CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
- Preheat oven to 325F then line the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan parchment paper. Spray the pan and paper with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, oil and eggs together until completely blended then set aside.
- Add the carrots to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until the carrots are very finely chopped and resemble the texture of wet sand. Then, add them to the sugar, oil and egg mixture, stirring to combine.
- Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices on top of the wet ingredients and carefully fold the wet and dry ingredients until completely blended. If you’d like to add in nuts, raisins, coconut and pineapple now is the time to fold them into the batter. Keep in mind that even you add nothing to the batter it's still going to be delicious.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake 45−50 minutes—the cake will be firm in the centre and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Test with a toothpick to make sure it's done.
- Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a baking rack for about 10 minutes.
- When the cake has rested but are still quite warm, invert onto a sheet of waxed paper. Remove the pan, peel the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake then replace the pan back over the cake to cover it and seal in the moisture. Leave the cake covered until it is completely cooled (at least 2 hours). If you want the cake VERY MOIST here's what I like to do. Remove from oven, cover with foil and place the cake into the freezer for 45 minutes. This is the same trick I use for my banana cake and it is weird but wonderful.
- While the cake is cooling, get started on the cream cheese frosting. Here is my favourite recipe.
- When the cake is cool and the frosting has been made, remove the pan to uncover the cake and frost.
- Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve then slice into big squares and enjoy!