Our Classic Carrot Cake made bakery-style is moist and tender as well as spiced and sweetened just right. In addition, this scrumptious cake is made of the finest all-natural, pure and organic ingredients you can find. The buttercream, our popular recipe for Best Ever Cream Cheese Buttercream, and the finely chopped walnut coating, takes Classic Carrot Cake to a whole new level—making it an exceedingly exceptional cake that everyone will love and be impressed by.
The Perfect Pure & Organic Carrot Layer Cake:
Carrot Cake Bakery-Style
Today I am taking a break from bringing you new and inventive Christmas cookie and treat recipes to kickoff Wicked Good Kitchen’s layer cake series.
My friends, I have been making my carrot cake for over 20 years now. In fact, the first time I baked and served this cake, it was while hosting our first Christmas party as a married couple and we watched our wedding video with family and friends for the first time. By the end of the party, everyone was talking about my carrot cake and wanted the recipe! No lie.
Our Carrot Cake ~ Best Ever Bakery-Style is moist and tender as well as spiced and sweetened just right. In addition, it is made of the finest all-natural, pure and organic ingredients you can find. The buttercream, our popular recipe for Best Ever Cream Cheese Buttercream, and the finely chopped walnut coating, takes Classic Carrot Cake to a whole new level—making it an exceedingly exceptional cake that everyone will love and be impressed by.
Note: For conventional ingredients (non-organic), please see the recommended substitutions, and their amounts, in the Recipe Notes section below the recipe.
The recipe is an amalgamation of several recipes and influenced most by Mrs. Fields’ (Debbi Fields) carrot cake recipe (from her cookbook, Mrs. Fields Cookie Book, published in 1992 by Time Life Books) and the one found in my copy of the New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook which only calls for grated carrots in the batter—nothing fancy, but a good basic carrot cake. Sometimes, I use melted butter in place of creaming the butter as in Mrs. Fields’ recipe. However, for this recipe here (the one I am famous for in certain circles, haha), I am calling for oil as most people find it convenient and economical as well as easy—by simply being familiar with preparing Classic Carrot Cake in this manner.
The main significant changes for the cake recipe are that, back in the early 1990s, I used half light brown sugar and added shredded sweetened coconut along with the carrots and pineapple and loved it. Family and friends agreed it was the best carrot cake they had ever tasted. When I bake this carrot cake recipe, my favorite way is to divide the batter between three 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans, versus using two 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pans, for a nice compact but taller cake which always looks impressive with the three layers when sliced for serving.
Sometimes I stir raisins into the batter, about ¾ cup (about 120 grams). However, when I do, I prefer adding golden raisins (sultanas) because the cake seems prettier to me this way. The golden raisins, when studded throughout the cake, resemble little golden gems that glisten ever so slightly due to their moisture. Also, when I do use oil in my carrot cakes, I like to use cold-pressed (or expeller-pressed) oil. My specific preference is using organic cold-pressed sunflower seed oil and I strongly recommend it. However, a favorite nut or vegetable oil will do nicely.
Just as with my carrot cake recipe, my Best Ever Cream Cheese Buttercream recipe was inspired by the one found in my New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. It is quite the opposite of Mrs. Fields’ recipe which calls for two 8-ounce packages (16 ounces or 452 grams) of cream cheese and only one stick (½ cup or 4 ounces, about 113 grams) of salted butter. The BHG recipe calls for one 8-ounce (226-gram) package of cream cheese to one stick of butter (again, at 4 ounces or 113 grams). However, I increased the amount of butter from the BHG recipe to create a true “Cream Cheese Buttercream”, versus a “Cream Cheese Frosting”, in a 1:1 ratio (8 ounces to 8 ounces, by weight, or 226 grams) of cream cheese to butter with just enough confectioners’ sugar to sweeten it yet keep the consistency thick enough to pipe beautifully. Most often, I use one stick of salted butter with one stick of unsalted for a nice salty-sweet balance.
This is what my dear reader, Maria Weinberg, shared about our Best Ever Cream Cheese Buttercream recipe:
“Oh. My. Goodness. My eldest son is getting married. I’m making the cake. This evening we did a run through to make sure that what we thought was a good idea, was in fact, a good idea. First, this is the best frosting I have ever tasted, period. I don’t like sweet, sweet frosting…this isn’t that! The wedding cake by the way is chocolate, with this frosting and pomegranate seeds. Oh yum! It was a hit with the bride to be and we didn’t have to do a take two.”
As for the walnuts, I tend to reserve them solely for embellishing the sides of the cake, after finely chopping, versus adding them (typically, coarsely broken or chopped) to the batter. This way, the cake is moist, tender and indulgent throughout, without any disruption of harder nuggets—thus, in perfect harmony with our Best Ever Cream Cheese Buttercream. Sometimes I toast the nuts, other times I don’t.
The taste and contrast in texture of the finely chopped walnuts marries nicely with the soft, buttery nature of the buttercream frosting for a welcome surprise while also balancing the sweetness. In addition, the nut coating, combined with the simple and easy-to-execute piping along the top circumference (using a 1M open star tip), provides visual appeal making this incredibly moist and tasty cake, look “finished” and especially pretty—just as if it was prepared by a professional bakery. Guests are always impressed with this cake!
For a little pop of color and added texture, I like to sprinkle the perimeter of the cake’s top surface with freshly grated carrot and, sometimes, fresh shredded and toasted coconut. A whisper of freshly grated nutmeg over the top finishes the professional bakery look.
In the spring, I like to adorn the top of the cake with a fresh mint sprig and a tiny daisy-type flower clipped from my garden patch. This garnish really speaks of springtime and Easter.
Happy cake baking!
Below are Pinterest-friendly sized images to pin at Pinterest!
Our Classic Carrot Cake made bakery-style is moist and tender as well as spiced and sweetened just right. It is made of the finest all-natural and organic ingredients you can find. Our Best Ever Cream Cheese Buttercream, and the walnut coating, takes Carrot Cake to a whole new level!
For the Carrot Cake
- 2 cups (about 250 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for cake pans
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon (4.8 g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (4.8 g) baking soda
- 1 teaspoon (4.8 g) fine-grain sea salt
- 1½ teaspoons (3.75 g) ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon (1 g) ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon (about .65 g) freshly grated organic whole nutmeg
- 1 cup (about 220 g) expeller pressed sunflower seed oil
- 4 large organic eggs (mine weighed 2o4 g total w/o shells)
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups (300 g) grated carrot, from about 4 large peeled carrots
- ½ cup (40 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
- ¾ cup (135 g) finely diced fresh pineapple
- Extra sunflower seed oil, for greasing cake pans
For the Cream Cheese Buttercream
- 1 to 1½ recipes Best Ever Cream Cheese Buttercream, recipe by Wicked Good Kitchen
For the Optional Cake Adornments
- 1¼ cups (about 138 g) finely chopped walnuts, to decorate sides of cake
- Grated carrots, to decorate top perimeter of cake
- Freshly grated nutmeg, to lightly dust top perimeter of cake
- Three 8-inch (20 cm) by 1½ to 2-inch round cake pans
- Four wire cooling racks, with the fourth used to flip cake layers right side up
- One 8-inch (20 cm) cardboard cake round, helpful but not necessary
- Cake Turntable, such as Ateco® or Wilton®, helpful but not necessary
- Metal Angled or Offset Icing Spatula, such as Ateco® or Wilton®, helpful but not necessary
- Metal Icing Spatula, such as Ateco® or Wilton®, helpful but not necessary
- Wax paper, for lining cake plate for icing & nut coating, helpful but not necessary
- Piping bag, coupler and Wilton® No. 21 star or 1M open star decorating tip, not necessary if no piping is desired
- Prepare Carrot Cake: Arrange oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 325º F (165º C). Grease three 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pans with oil. Line bottoms with parchment or wax paper circles. Grease paper linings and dust lined pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
- Using an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or handheld mixer and large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices on low speed (stir) until well combined. Add oil, eggs and vanilla; mix on low speed (stir), scraping down the sides of bowl as necessary with rubber spatula. Beat on medium speed until well blended, about 1 to 2 minutes. Fold in carrots, coconut and pineapple and mix until thoroughly combined. Using rubber spatula, scrape and pour batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly (about 2 cups or 480 ml of batter per cake pan). Smooth tops evenly with rubber spatula.
- Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Run thin metal spatula around edges of each cake to loosen, then invert onto wire rack and peel away parchment or wax paper. Turn right side up onto wire racks (using an additional rack to flip); cool completely.
- Prepare the Cream Cheese Buttercream: Prepare according to recipe directions.
- Assemble and Ice the Cake: To frost and fill cake, use a scant ¾ to 1 cup (180 ml to 240 ml) frosting between each layer and then proceed to spread frosting over top and sides of cake neatly and evenly with remaining buttercream. You may do a crumb coat and then chill the cake for 30 to 45 minutes before completing the icing, if desired. However, if decorating the sides of the cake with nuts, skip the crumb coat because the nuts will hide any crumbs that may be showing.
- To Decorate the Cake: If decorating the cake, gently press finely chopped walnuts onto sides of cake. This is easy to do if the cake layers are assembled onto a cardboard cake round. Simply hold and balance the cake on the cake round in one hand and use free hand to press the nuts into the sides of the cake. Use a sheet of parchment or wax paper, or even a sheet pan, to catch the excess.
- If not using a cardboard cake round to hold the cake and press nuts into sides of cake, it is still easy to do. Simply line your cake plate or pedestal with four 4- to 5-inch (about 10 to 13 cm) wide strips of wax paper and use hand to press nuts onto sides of cake. The wax paper strips will catch the nuts that fall away. Turn the cake as you work (a cake turntable is helpful, but not necessary) all the way around. Once finished, scoop away the fallen nuts with spoon and pull the wax paper sheets away leaving a clean cake plate or pedestal.
- Pipe a simple or fancy border with your favorite tip (I used the 1M open star tip) around the perimeter of the top layer. Sprinkle grated carrot in a circle on top of the cake, just inside the piped border. If desired, lightly dust top perimeter of cake with freshly grated nutmeg.
- Yield: Makes one 8-inch (20 cm) round 3-layer cake; about 8 to 10 servings.
Cake may be made one day in advance. Keep covered in refrigerator.
The buttercream can be made 2 to 3 days in advance. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature before beating smooth again.
Prepare extra buttercream, about 1½ recipes if piping a large border around the top perimeter of the cake is desired.
After frosting the layered cake it is best to chill it until firm, about 1 to 2 hours. Chilling, before slicing the cake, will yield neater cake slices for a better plated presentation.
Total Time represents preparing the cake batter and baking the cake. Additional time is required for the cake to cool as well as to prepare the buttercream and decorate the cake, which can vary.
How to Measure All-Purpose Flour for this Recipe: This tip is provided for bakers who do not own a kitchen scale and will be measuring flour by volume rather than by weight. First, aerate flour by stirring it in the container. Then, simply use the “Dip and Sweep Method” by dipping dry measuring cup into the flour and then level off the top with the straight edge of a metal icing spatula. (The straight edge of a knife from a flatware set can be used as well.) This should yield about 125 grams per 1 cup of flour. Use a sheet of wax paper as a liner on your work surface to measure flour so that the excess can easily be funneled back into flour bag or container.
To Store the Cake: Keep cake covered and stored in refrigerator until ready to slice. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.
To Prepare Cupcakes: Arrange oven rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 325º F (165ºC). Line standard 12-cup muffin pan with standard paper bake cups. Divide batter evenly among 24 muffin cups (baked in two batches), filling each cup ¾ full. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 24 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Transfer baked cupcakes to wire racks to cool completely, about 1 hour. Yield: Makes 24 cupcakes.
Brown Sugar: Part light or dark organic cane brown sugar may be used for enhanced flavor. Simply use 1 cup (200 g) organic granulated cane sugar and 1 cup (200 g) packed light or dark brown organic cane sugar in lieu of 2 cups (400 g) organic granulated cane sugar called for in the recipe. I prefer using part light or dark brown sugar in the fall and winter months, but prefer using all granulated cane sugar in the spring. The reason is because the flavor profile and color of the cake is a bit deeper and more suitable in the fall and winter when using light brown sugar. Conversely, the lighter shade of orange is more suitable for spring, such as for an Easter Carrot Cake, when using all granulated sugar.
Non-Organic Substitutions and Measurements:
Salt: Although pure fine-grain sea salt without additives is strongly recommended, ¾ teaspoon (4.5 g) regular table salt can be substituted for 1 teaspoon (4.8 g) fine-grain sea salt called for in recipe.
Oil: Although organic cold-pressed or expeller-pressed sunflower seed oil is strongly recommended, 1 cup or 240 ml (weight may vary slightly) of your favorite nut or vegetable oil may be used.
Coconut: Although organic unsweetened shredded coconut is strongly recommended, ¾ cup (90 g) shredded sweetened coconut, such as Baker’s® Angel Flake®, can be substituted for ½ cup (about 40 g) organic unsweetened shredded coconut, such as Let’s Do Organic®, called for in recipe.
Pineapple: Although diced fresh organic pineapple is strongly recommended, ½ cup (122 g) drained crushed pineapple, such as Dole®, from an 8-ounce (227 g) can, can be substituted for ¾ cup (about 135 g) finely diced fresh organic pineapple called for in recipe.
Wicked Good Kitchen highly recommends selecting organic ingredients whenever possible.
For this recipe, and all our baking recipes calling for unbleached all-purpose flour, we highly recommend the pure and Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Flour by Hodgson Mill® because it is naturally white and contains no additives. We also highly recommend organic grass-fed butter, eggs, granulated cane sugar, brown sugar and confectioners’ sugar as well as organic carrots, coconut (such as Unsweetened Shredded Coconut by Let’s Do Organic®), fresh pineapple (or 365 Everyday Value Pineapple Chunks by Whole Foods Market®), walnuts and spices. We also highly recommend aluminum-free baking powder (such as 365 Everyday Value Aluminum-Free Baking Powder by Whole Foods Market®), pure baking soda (such as 365 Everyday Value Baking Soda by Whole Foods Market®), Organic Valley® Cream Cheese and Nielsen-Massey® Organic Pure Vanilla Extract as well as 365 Everyday Value Organic Refined Expeller Pressed Sunflower Seed Oil by Whole Foods Market®.
Carrot Cake Recipe Adapted From: Better Homes & Gardens
Best Ever Cream Cheese Buttercream Recipe by: WickedGoodKitchen.com
Original Recipe Source: WickedGoodKitchen.com
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