Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Classic Carrot Cake

Carrot cake might possibly be my favourite kind of cake. The hint of cinnamon complements the carrot cake in a subtle but still noticeable way. Besides the incredible texture and moisture that the grated carrots add, I can at least pretend that I’m consuming something relatively healthy in the world of empty calories and refined fats and sugars that is baking. Some people don’t like carrot cake merely because there are carrots in it. Okay, so carrots grow in the ground and are therefore vegetables. So what? Tomatoes are fruits.

Carrot cake is a formidable dessert on its own, but when it is paired with a light cream cheese frosting, it is taken to a whole new level. I don’t like super sweet frostings or anything too heavy; the cake itself should be the star of the show. This cream cheese frosting is lighter than traditional frostings due to the addition of egg whites.


Ever since my older brother contracted salmonella (from lettuce, of all things), I’ve been steering clear of raw eggs. I used reconstituted dried egg whites in place of the fresh ones. I tried this recipe with pasteurized egg whites, but it just wouldn’t whip up. As to why, I’m not sure, but dried egg whites is what worked for me.

Click below for the recipe.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from: Little Cakes by Susan Waggoner
Yield: 1 8-inch cake

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 3 cups grated carrots (about 6 or 1 pound) 
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional (I don't really like whole nuts, so I omitted them). 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 oz (225 g) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For cake, preheat the oven to 350F. Butter, flour, and line two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. (You could use two 9-inch pans, or three 8-inch pans. I only had two 8-inch pans so I used those. However, I felt that the cake would have been too high had I used all four layers, so I only used three in the final cake.)

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice into a bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with brown sugar until frothy, about 5 minutes. 

Add oil in a steady stream while beating. Stir in grated carrots. Add dry ingredients and mix until just thoroughly combined. 

Divide the cake batter into the prepared cake pans, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool for about forty-five minutes in the pan, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For frosting, combine egg whites and sugar in a large bowl and whip until it medium peaks form. Add the vanilla. Add the butter and whip until thick and smooth. This is the part where you have to attempt to not freak out over the fact that the frosting looks like a curdly mess. If you keep whipping, I assure you that the frosting will eventually become thick and creamy. This takes a while, probably around five to ten minutes, so just keep whipping.

Add cream cheese and beat until thoroughly combined.

Frost cake as desired.

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