Classic for a reason: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
Show us a more iconic duo, we’ll wait
Carrot cake has got to be up there with chocolate and vanilla when it comes to the most-popular, go-to, crowd-pleasing cakes. Carrots add sweetness and a touch of earthiness to carrot cake — rather than a flavour that screams ‘carrot!’ — not to mention moisture. Slathered in cream cheese icing (every time, for a rare, no-debate marriage), this is a classic cake that’s perfect for spring.
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
*It is important to use freshly grated carrots as they contain the most moisture and will contribute to the final texture of the cake.
Feel free to add ½ cup of raisins, walnuts or pecans to the cake to modify it to your tastes. You can also use these ingredients to decorate the top of the cake.
- 2 x 8-inch round baking pans
- Offset spatula
- 10-inch cake board, stand or plate
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting the cake pans)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground clove
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 3 cups freshly grated carrots*
- 1 cup plain cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (plus more for greasing the cake pans)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 2 cups sifted icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. To prepare both baking tins, grease with butter and dust lightly with flour shaking off the excess. Line the bottom of both with a round cut out of parchment paper.
In a large bowl beat the eggs and whisk in the canola oil, white sugar, light brown sugar and vanilla extract. Ensure there are no lumps of sugar. In a separate bowl whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir. Be careful not to overmix the batter or else the cake will come out tough. Once combined, add the carrots and gently fold them into the batter until evenly distributed. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared baking tins and transfer to the oven for 40 minutes. Check on the pans halfway through baking and rotate the pans 180 degrees. The cakes are finished baking when a toothpick or knife is removed from the center of the cake clean with no crumbs attached. When done, remove the cakes from their baking tins and place on a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.
Prepare the icing while the cakes are cooling. In the bowl of an electric mixer add the cream cheese and butter. Beat on medium speed until combined and smooth. Add the vanilla extract and lemon juice while scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl. Lastly add the icing sugar and continue to beat on medium until combined and fluffy. Do not overbeat the icing as it may separate and become watery. If the icing is too soft, cover it with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until it stiffens up.
To decorate the cake: Using a serrated knife, gently slice the tops off of the carrot cakes so they are flat. Place a dime-sized amount of icing on a cake board and place the first layer of cake onto the icing, to help it stay in place. Scoop a medium spoonful of icing on top of the first cake and smooth it out making sure the entire surface of the cake is covered evenly. Place the second cake on top of the first, cut side down. Scoop a big spoonful of icing onto the top of the cake and slowly and gently work the mound of icing over the top and onto the sides of the cake with an offset spatula. This is called a crumb coating and the goal is to get an even, thin layer of icing all over the cake; it is normal to see through the icing to the cake. Try to avoid scraping crumbs into the bowl of icing. Place the cake in the fridge to set for 20 minutes. Once the crumb coat is set, repeat the icing process, this time getting a good layer of icing around the cake. To achieve a smooth finish, dip the offset spatula into a bowl of warm water, and with the second coat of icing smoothly applied to the entire cake, take the tip of the offset spatula and place it flush to the surface of the bottom of the cake. With your free hand, slowly rotate the cake while holding the spatula lightly against the surface of the cake. Slowly drag the spatula upwards toward the top edge of the cake – this will create line indents on the outside of the cake in a swirling pattern. Repeat the same process on the top edge of the cake, working from the center outward to the edge.