Carrot Cake

I’ve been on a baking binge lately and I made a carrot cake. Not just any carrot cake – an exceptional carrot cake. This recipe comes from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis. The beauty of this cake is that it can be made several days ahead of time and holds up well. Grated carrots and peanut oil make this cake incredibly moist, and the frosting, while not overly sweet – is a perfect compliment to this three layer masterpiece!

P.S. Elena – Thanks again for the tablecloth – we miss you!

For the cake-

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted after measuring
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground Ceylon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 cup light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups peanut oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups finely grated carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts

For the frosting-

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 24 ounces cream cheese, chilled
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Lightly butter and flour three 9 inch cake pans.

2. Put the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cocoa in a mixing bowl and whisk together to blend. Put the sugars in a large mixing bowl and whisk in the peanut oil. Then whisk in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.

3. When fully blended, add the flour mixture all at once, and mix just until smooth. Stir in the grated carrots and the pecans.

4. Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans. Drop each pan sharply onto the counter from a height of about 6 inches to remove any air pockets. Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the center of the layers springs back gently when touched, or when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and place on cooling racks until completely cooled, then unmold.

To make the frosting: Cut the butter into 2-inch pieces, and put in the mixing bowl of an electric mixture. Mix on medium speed just until the butter begins to become malleable, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add the cream cheese in pieces and mix until thoroughly blended. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, and mix until blended. Increase mixer speed slightly, and continue mixing for 2 – 3 minutes, until the frosting becomes light and fluffy.

To assemble the cake: Place one of the cake layers, bottom side up, on a cake plate. Spoon approximately a quarter of the frosting onto the layer, and spread it over evenly. Place a second layer, bottom side down, on top of the first, and spread with an equal amount of frosting. Place the final layer, bottom side down, on top of the others, and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting. Store in a cool but not refrigerated area until serving.

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