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Monday, February 23, 2009

Classic Carrot Cake

carrot-cake3Align Center

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"

-Ecclesiastes 3:1

Do you categorize your food by season? I do. It makes sense to cook with ingredients that are at their peak of freshness. Certain foods, by their nature are also more suited to particular times of the year. For example, to me, it just doesn't feel right to eat butternut squash in the middle of July. Likewise, I feel somewhat out of place serving peach dishes in December.

I also tend to categorize desserts by season. I enjoy lighter, fruity desserts in warmer weather, and denser, richer ones in the Fall and Winter. One of my favorite cool weather treats is a moist, rich and spice-laced carrot cake, preferably with lots of little chunks of fruits and nuts inside. Oh yeah, and it's gotta have a ton of rich, tangy, silky and fluffy cream cheese frosting slathered all over it too!


When I saw this Classic Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting in the January, 2009 issue of Food & Wine Magazine, I knew I had hit carrot cake pay dirt! The recipe comes courtesy of pastry chef Jodi Elliot from the Urban Farmer in Portland, Oregon.

This cake is called classic for a reason. It is moist, dense and flavorful, without being overly sweet. The cream cheese frosting creamy and fluffy, just as advertised. A very satisfying and comforting combination! The recipe is straightforward and uncomplicated. What you see, is what you get. And, in these uncertain times, that is a very good thing!


Classic Carrot Cake with Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting (Print Recipe)
adapted from Food & Wine Magazine, January, 2009


For the cake:

1 cup pecans (4 ounces)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded

For the frosting:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar


Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter two 9-inch cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment. Butter the paper and flour the pans.

Make the cake: Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, until fragrant. Cool and finely chop the pecans.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, buttermilk and vanilla. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until pale, 5 minutes. Beat in the liquid ingredients. Beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in the carrots and pecans. Divide the batter between the pans and bake the cakes for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until springy and golden. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then unmold the cakes and let cool completely.

Make the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese at high speed until light, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla, then the confectioners’ sugar; beat at low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Peel off the parchment paper and invert one cake layer onto a plate. Spread with a slightly rounded cup of the frosting. Top with the second cake layer, right side up. Spread the top and sides with the remaining frosting and refrigerate the cake until chilled, about 1 hour.

Slice and serve.



Nina Timm said...

That is my favorite quotes from the Bible.... Lovely, moist and chunky fruit carrot cake...and yes, bring on loads of frosting!!!

Anonymous said...

YUMMY! Today ismy birthday, and I think I am going to bake this today for my cake!!!! Thanks for sharing it!

Engineer Baker said...

You're right - that cake looks absolutely perfect. I absolutely love carrot cake, especially with raisins and pecans and cream cheese frosting... Dangit, I need to put carrots on my grocery list now :)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

I have always been a huge fan or carrot cake:D

Tangled Noodle said...

I adore carrot cake on so many levels - the cream cheese frosting, the moist density, the crunch of nuts and last but not least, the health halo of carrots! 8-)

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I was never much of a carrot cake person, but I'm also thinking I've never had a good carrot cake...and I was young at the time, so carrot anything was not to be trusted, lol. This really looks tempting though and it sounds like I need to give carrot cake another shot.

Meg said...

I love carrot cake! This looks delicious!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What a beautiful tall cake! It looks really scrumptious... Tempting!



Anonymous said...

Gorgeous! I love the fluffy frosting! Yum!

Gera@SweetsFoodsBlog said...

Hi Susan!

I think also foods have seasons more appropriated to time of the year.
Speaking about perfect cake...I'm seeing a fluffy creamy delicious one here!


Glimmer said...

wow! looks so delicate! I'm definately gonna make it!

pigpigscorner said...

Looks so moist and delicious!

Bret's Table said...

I absolutely adore Carrot Cake and I'm always looking for another one to devour. Thanks so much for sharing this one.

grace said...

yes, carrot cake is good. but what appeals to me most of all is the thick, luscious layers of cream cheese frosting. your cake is absolutely decadent.
and hey--great verse. :)

squawmama said...

Oh Susan How I love Carrot Cake... It is heaven! I copied this recipe as fast as my little hands could do it... I will be making it for my group when we go on an outing next week... Thanks


Elyse said...

Wow, your carrot cake looks delicious. I love the thick layers of frosting between the moist looking cake. HEAVENLY!

Anonymous said...

The carrot cake looks SO good! I haven't made a carrot cake in a couple of years-I think it's time again.

Karen said...

Looks very moist and yummy :)

Maria said...

Lovely cake!! I will have to make this for my father, he adores carrot cake!

Ingrid_3Bs said...

I like carrot cake but plain nothing in it except carrots, weird, huh?

Debbie said...

Susan that just looks delicious. Mon youngest loves carrot cake and I will have to make this for him!

Anonymous said...

You did a wonderful job on this one! That forkful definitely has my name on it. Heck, I'll take the whole slice :-)

Anonymous said...

Carrot cake is one of the baked good gifts to the world!

Anonymous said...

Oh man, what a gorgeous looking cake. I'm sure it was delicious. YUM!

Dana Treat said...

Lovely cake, beautiful photos. Nice job!

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous cake! The frosting looks perfect. There's no better way to eat a carrot.

Bria said...

I love carrot cake but it's one of those things I've never baked. Will have to make it a goal for 2009. Yours looks perfect.

Sandy Smith said...

This is beautiful. I love a good carrot cake, and your fantastic pictures have set off the most intense craving now! MMMMM!

The Italian Dish said...

Classic. Perfect. You rock.

Unknown said...

Yum!!! Carrot cake is good and this looks great. I do assign seasons to foods...just can't quite help it!

Brilynn said...

I think carrot cake is one of my favourites, the cream cheese frosting lures me in every time!

Proud Italian Cook said...

Susan, This is irresistable! I would dive into this right now!!

Anonymous said...

Susan, I have always loved carrot cake. I got my first taste of it at a school bake sale (do they still have those?) when I was about 6 or 7. I have never made for myself though - something that will change right now. Thanks for sharing the recipe - I'll have to use walnuts instead of pecans because they're impossible to find here, but other than that I should be okay!

Anonymous said...

I try every carrot cake recipe because it's my hubby's favorite. I saw this in F & W and need to make it.

Beautiful as always.

Peter M said...

Susan, this is sheer awesomeness! I can still remember my 1st carrot cake...complete with Philly cream cheese icing!

It's been a sin that I haven't had it in awhile.

Anonymous said...

This is just delicious. I love it. I think I need

Cakelaw said...

This looks fabulous - there's nothing like a good carrot cake.

AmyRuth said...

Your cake photos look beautiful. I am making a carrot cake in the morning. Can't wait! I love the combination of the nuts, fruits and spices too.

AmyRuth said...

Your cake photos look beautiful. I am making a carrot cake in the morning. Can't wait! I love the combination of the nuts, fruits and spices too.

Anonymous said...

This looks beautiful! I love carrot cake- it's one of my favorites!