Okay, so technically Carrot Cake Day was Friday, February 3rd. But we can still enjoy this amazing carrot cake today!
To be honest, carrot cake was never a favorite of mine. If I was presented with the options of red velvet, vanilla, or carrot cake, red velvet and vanilla would be the ones I had to choose between.
However, if I was presented with the choices of red velvet, vanilla and this carrot cake, I would definitely declare carrot cake my favorite. When I was little, my great-grandmother would come over and bake with my sisters and I. Those times in the kitchen, baking all sorts of sweets and treats with (usually) four generations of my family are some of my favorite memories. Now that I think about it, spending those hours with my grandmother is probably what sparked that first flicker of the love I have for baking. Now, that love is a full-blown wildfire, but one I have no intention of putting out.
Among the desserts we would bake are Italian tri-color cookies (my all-time favorite dessert from grandma), German spice cookies, almond cresent cookies, and of course, this recipe for carrot cake.
I remember being somewhat shocked when I learned all the ingredients in this cake, and it made me wonder why I never chose it as a favorite. Pineapple is my favorite fruit. I love nuts in desserts. Carrots are my go-to veggie to snack on (in actuality my favorite veggie is broccoli, but I don’t think broccoli would be very good in a dessert). And cream cheese frosting? The combination is made in Dessert Heaven.
I knew that when carrot cake day rolled around, I HAD to have the recipe my great-grandmother uses. And now I share it with you. Enjoy!
My Grandma’s Carrot Cake
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 & 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 & 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 4 eggs, room temp
- 1 whole 8 oz can crushed pineapple (including juice. You could also use a little less than half a 20 oz can; if you don’t have canned crushed pineapple, you can crush the pineapple yourself by blending it for a few seconds in a food processor. Note: do not puree the pineapple, leave some chunks)
- 2 cups grated carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts and bumped it up to 1 cup)
- 24 oz cream cheese, room temp
- 1 cup powdered sugar (or to taste)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 sticks of butter, room temp
- powdered sugar to taste
- red, yellow and green gel food coloring
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans.
- Sift together dry ingredients and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachement, beat together oil and sugar. The sugar will not completely dissolve or incorporate in the oil; this is okay.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly until each egg is incorporated.
- Slowly add the flour in two batches and mix until combined. Add carrots, pineapple and nuts.
- Divide batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops.
- Bake for 40 minutes. It may need more or less time, depending on your oven or the pans. The tops of the cakes will rise and look round and golden brown. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the top is firm but still soft when touched.
- Remove from oven and let cool for fifteen minutes. Patience here is crucial. I was impatient and flipped the cakes onto the cooling racks too soon and one of the cakes broke. Not fun. Don’t be impatient like me.
- When the pans are cool, flip the cakes onto the cooling racks and let cool completely.
- At this point, you can either put the cakes on plates, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge if serving later. I made my cakes three days in advance and they still tasted amazing.
- Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powered sugar and vanilla, mixing until completely incorporated.
- Place one of the cakes on a stand. To frost, use a flat spatula to spread the cream cheese frosting all over the top of the first cake.
- Top with the second cake and repeat with the frosting, making sure to cover the sides. Smooth the frosting with a butter knife to make it look prettier.
- Return to the fridge to set.
I love these little carrots. What’s a better way to decorate a carrot cake??
- In the stand mixer, beat one stick of butter with about 1/2 cup powdered sugar. This is the base for both colors.
- When light and fluffy, add the gel food coloring. For the orange part of the carrot, I used 2:1 ratio of yellow and red. I didn’t really measure how many drops, but for every red, I added two drops of yellow gel coloring. It was probably 2 drops red and 4 drops yellow. For the green leaves, I used two drops green gel coloring.
- Mix until the coloring is fully incorporated.
- To decorate, line a baking pan with wax paper.
- Fill piping bags, one for each color. For the leaves, I used Wilton #67 piping tip, and for the triangle part of the carrots I used tip #5 .
- Put the pan in the fridge to let the carrots harden and set. It takes about 10 minutes.
- Depending on how many decorative carrots you want, you may have leftover buttercream.
- Remove cake from the fridge and decorate as desired! Enjoy!