Easy Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
There are a lot of recipes out there for carrot cake. Here’s mine! It’s fairly simple, has just a few ingredients and bakes up either in a loaf tin, or a larger, shallower tray-bake type pan. Basically a single layer cake with yummy cream cheese frosting. Little marzipan carrots are truly optional. If this is a special occasion, like Easter or even just a spring dinner … then make the carrots or buy something similar to decorate. Remember to make this easy on yourself!
Not just for dessert
Who says you have to keep this for dinner? Honestly, many times I find that the family (okay, not the kids) are too full after a big meal to really enjoy dessert. So? A slice of cake with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon is a wonderful thing. Breakfast you say? And why not? It does have vegetables and cheese in it!
I posted the other day about Measurements and Prep for baking and I used the carrot cake as my reference. I feel very strongly that baking should be enjoyable and as little work as it can be, yet for the results you want. Take a look at that post and see what you think about weighing ingredients. I’d love to hear back from you on this.
This recipe is an oldie, I don’t remember how long we’ve had it. Made it many, many times. I can tell you that the original paper copy I have in my binder was typed up and printed on a dot-matrix printer by my husband! Dot-matrix, that’s right!
Just goes to show that if something works, it’s worth doing again.
I do recommend using gloves while colouring the marzipan. The colour will wash off the cutting board, but lasts on the skin a lot longer.
Decorating can be half the fun
I happened to have some marzipan in my fridge leftover from Christmas baking. This is the actual brand I use, it’s not cheap but it is very high quality and will keep for a very long time in the fridge. If you enjoy working with marzipan there are quite a few things you can do with it. I happen to enjoy a very thick layer of it on my Christmas fruit cake.
For the food colouring, I’ve tried many different brands and this is a good option. You really need to use a paste rather than a liquid. You’ll use much less in the end and while it seems expensive, it goes a very long way. Also paste colours don’t change the thickness of whatever you’re colouring. This is very important if using to colour most frostings/buttercreams.
- 170g (3/4 cup) soft butter
- 200g (1 cup) brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 300g (2 cups) all purpose flour
- 6g (2 teaspoons) baking powder
- 6g (1 and 1/2 teaspoons) cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 250ml (1 cup) milk
- 2 and 1/2 cups grated carrots
- 75g (1/2 cup) raisins
- 50g (1/2 cup) chopped pecans
- 40g (1/4 cup) chopped candied peel - orange or lemon (optional)
Icing and Decoration
- (6 oz) softened cream cheese
- (1/4 cup) butter
- 15ml (1 tablespoon) milk
- 250g (2 cups) icing sugar
- 227g (8oz) marzipan and food colouring
I bake this in a loaf tin, so it takes 70 minutes ususally. If you are baking in a larger shallower cake pan, it will generally take around 40 minutes. Be sure to test it with a skewer or a cake tester inserted in the middle. The skewer should come out dry with a couple of crumbs on it when it is baked. It should not be wet.
- Preheat the oven to 350F (190C).
- Prepare all your ingredients so you know that you have everything. If you are using a scale, weigh all the dry ingredients together, weight the raisins, carrots, nuts and peel together.
- Start by creaming the butter until it is lighter in colour and smooth. Once it's like that, add the sugar. Now beat until it is well blended and there are no obvious spots of either butter or sugar.
- Add the eggs one at a time. You can crack all the eggs into a bowl or cup and just pour one at a time into the batter.
- Add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk, a bit at a time.
- Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and add the carrots, raisins, pecans and peel. You just want to stir until all of these 'inclusions' are well incorporated into the batter.
- Scoop the cake batter into your prepared cake pan. This is not a very runny or wet batter. It is not going to rise too much, just a bit.
- For a loaf pan - bake for approximately 70-75 minutes. For a 9x14 pan, it's close to 40 minutes.
- When the cake is done, remove from the oven and set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Leave it in the pan until it is barely warm. Carefully turn out onto a rack. If you are using a larger, flatter pan, put a cutting board on top, turn over, and when the cake is out with the bottom side up, place the cooling rack on the bottom and flip over again. Gently!
- Once the cake is completely cooled, spread the icing over the top until it is smooth.
- To make the icing, beat the soft cream cheese and soft butter together until fully mixed, soft and smooth.
- Gradually add in the milk and the icing sugar.
- Once it is fully blended, dollop on top of the cake and make decorative swirls using a pallette knife.
- If you are choosing to make miniature carrots from the marzipan, divide the marzipan into two sections, the part you are going to colour green should be the size of a golfball.
- Carefully colour the marzipan with the food colouring (recommend wearing gloves - I definetly do). Roll and smoosh until the colour is thoroughly through the marzipan.
- Shape into little carrots and set aside. You may need a little icing sugar to help roll the marzipan.
- Place the carrots on top of the cake and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour so the cream cheese frosting firms up a bit.
I'm not a huge fan of food colouring, but the little marzipan carrots definetly make this a charming cake. Don't worry about getting the cream cheese frosting too smooth, this is cake to enjoy with family and friends and they won't care. They'll just be happy to enjoy a homemade cake.
My recipes are all created using metric weight measurements. Conversion to spoons and cups are approximate.
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