The Perfect Carrot Cake

I recently ordered the most disappointing piece of carrot cake at a restaurant - you know who you are - this sad piece of cake arrived dry, crumbly with hard icing, and the worst offense of them all there was no layers in the cake! That's right no icing in the middle of the cake.

In my opinion the elements of the perfect carrot cake are:
1 - moistness
2 - the perfect soft cream cheese icing
3 - the absence of raisins

This disappointing experience made me think about the best carrot cakes of my time. One cake in particular sticks out in my memory. I was asked to make a wedding cake and told it must be carrot cake, tiered and iced with cream cheese and coconut. Now since I was not a cake decorating expert I assembled this three tiered beauty and left for the reception with it on my lap (I know, very unwise!).That of course led to the terrifying drive through our windy river valley with tiers of carrot cake sliding around at each corner. Regardless of the tipsy turvy shape it was in when we arrived, the cake was delicious!

butter , for greasing the pan
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup corn oil
4 large eggs , lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups walnuts , shelled, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/3 cups carrots , cooked, pureed
3/4 cup crushed pineapple , drained

8 ounces cream cheese , at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , room temperature
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 lemon, juice of


1 - Preheat the oven to 350°F Grease two 9-inch spring form pans.
2 - Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well. Fold in the walnuts, coconut, carrots, and pineapple.
3 - Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Set on the center rack of the oven and bake until the edges have pulled away from the sides and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 minutes.
4 - Cool on a cake rack for 3 hours. Fill and frost the cake with the cream cheese frosting.
5 - Cream together the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl.
6- Slowly sift in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fully incorporated. The mixture should be free of lumps.
7 - Stir in the vanilla, and lemon juice if desired.

Carrot cake seems like such an elegant cake, it deserves to be presented in a way that befits elegance. Here are a few lovely examples of it displayed just right.

My favorite no fail recipe is from the Silver Palate cookbook. I have shared it below, I have said it's no fail but be careful not to over bake it. Even a great recipe can't save dry carrot cake.



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