First of all, I think a carrot cake needs to be (excuse me for this horrible word) moist. It should be tender and never too dense. We are making cake here, not the equivalent to banana bread, and not traditional fruit cake either. I typically add crushed pineapple to moisten and flavor my carrot cakes. I understand that not everyone keeps a spare can of pineapples around, but equal parts applesauce will also do the trick.
This recipe is a simple and moist two-layer carrot cake with crushed walnuts and cream cheese frosting. Carrot cake’s flavors develop after a day or two, making this the perfect make-ahead recipe.
Amazingly moist carrot cake with pineapple and crushed walnuts
2 cups granulated sugar 1 1/3 cups vegetable oil 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 cup raisins 1 cup chopped walnuts 1 pound carrots, grated 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple For the frosting: 3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
For the decoration: 2 cups crushed walnuts
1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2.) Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
3.) Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light yellow. Add the vanilla. In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, the cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
4.) Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour. Fold in the carrots and pineapple. Add to the batter and mix well.
5.) Divide the batter equally between the 2 pans. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set over a wire rack.
For the frosting:
1.) Mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.
2.) Place 1 layer, flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.
** If pipping the carrots on the cake, be sure to set aside 1/2 – 1 cup of frosting
1.) Crush the walnuts with a hammer or cooking mallet.
2.) Using your palms gently press the crushed walnut onto the sides of the cake.
For the Carrot decorations:
1. ) Divide the left over frosting into two bowls
2.) In the first bowl mix a few drops of the orange food coloring till the frosting has reached your desired color.
*** Note you can use red and yellow food coloring to make the orange if you do not have it.
3.) Fill the first piping bag with the Wilton #12 round tip and the orange frosting. See instructions on how to make the carrot here. I recommend trying on a paper plate or napkin first.
4.) In the second bowl mix a few drops of the kelly green food coloring till the frosting has reached the desired shade of green.
*** Note you can use blue and yellow food coloring to make the green if you do not have it.
5.) Fill the second piping bag with the Wilton #352 tip and the green frosting. See instructions on how to make the leaf here. I recommend trying on a paper plate or napkin first.
6.) Pipe the carrots and the leaves onto your finished cake.
Be sure to send me pictures of your finished products =)