Mother's Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Mother's Best by Lisa Schroeder with Danielle Centoni;TauntonPress(2009)Photographsby Ellen Silverman

Mother's Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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    Ingredients

    1 pound carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (about 4 medium carrots), for the cake 3 large eggs, for the cake
    3 cups walnuts (divided), for the cake 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, for the cake
    2 cups all-purpose flour, for the cake, plus more for flouring the pans 1 cup packed sweetened shredded coconut, for the cake
    2 teaspoons baking soda, for the cake 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained (about 1 cup pineapple), for the cake
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, for the cake 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, for the cream cheese frosting
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, for the cake 1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature, for the frosting
    1 teaspoon kosher salt, for the cake 3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, for the cream cheese frosting
    1 cup vegetable oil, for the cake 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, for the cream cheese frosting
    2 cups granulated sugar, for the cake

    directions

    Prep: 30 min Total: More than 60 min
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    • 1

      To make the cake: Fill a saucepan with a couple inches of water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Place the sliced carrots in a steamer basket and set over the saucepan. Cover and steam the carrots until very tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. (You can also bring a pot of water to a boil, add the carrots, cover, and cook until tender.) Place the carrots in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and purée until smooth. You should have 11⁄3 cups puréed carrots. Alternatively, you can purée with an immersion blender or with a food mill. (Don’t use a blender or you’ll need to add liquid.)

    • 2

      Heat the oven to 350°F and place a rack in the center. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Chop the walnuts and set aside.

    • 3

      Meanwhile, grease the bottom and sides of a 13x9x2-inch baking dish or two 9-inch cake pans with butter, oil, or nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom(s) with parchment paper and grease the paper (Love Note 2, page 351, Devil’s Food Cake). Sprinkle in a little flour and turn the pans to evenly coat the greased areas. Turn the pans over and tap them against the bottom of the sink to remove the excess (Love Note 1).

    • 4

      Sift the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt into a medium bowl.

    • 5

      Place the oil and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat at medium speed until combined. Add the eggs one at a time and beat at medium speed until well incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla and carrots and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Stir in the coconut, 1 cup of the walnuts, and the drained pineapple.

    • 6

      Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake in the center of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (crumbs can cling to it, but no streaks of batter) and the cake is pulling away from the sides of the pan(s). Remove the pan(s) from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. After 15 minutes, place a cooling rack(s) over the pan(s) and invert (so the cake falls out of the pan and onto the rack). Peel off the parchment and continue to cool the cake for at least 1 hour before frosting.

    • 7

      To make the frosting: In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the sugar, 1 cup at a time. Stop the machine and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and whisk at medium-high speed until very smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop the machine and scrape down the bowl again, and then mix for 1 minute more. Set aside.

    • 8

      To frost a 13x9x2-inch cake: Place a serving platter on top of the cake and invert it again so the cake is sitting on it (Love Note 2). Tuck a few strips of parchment paper under the bottom edges of the cake (this keeps the serving plate clean as you frost). Use an offset spatula to scrape one-third of the frosting onto the top of the cooled cake. Spread the frosting over the top and sides (this is a thin coating called a “crumb coat,” which fixes all the loose crumbs in place). Wipe your spatula clean and scrape the remaining frosting onto the top of the cake. Spread evenly over the top and sides.

    • 9

      Press the remaining chopped toasted walnuts around the sides and over the top of the cake. Refrigerate if not serving immediately.

    • 10

      To frost a two-layer cake: Place a serving plate on top of one cake and invert it again so the cake is sitting on it (Love Note 2). Tuck a few strips of parchment paper under the bottom edges of the cake (this keeps the serving plate clean as you frost). Use an offset spatula to scrape one-third of the frosting onto the top of the cake; spread it evenly over the top. Carefully set the other cake on top, with the flat side facing up, and scrape one-third of the frosting onto the top of it. Spread this frosting over the top and sides of the cake (this thin layer of frosting is a crumb coat, which will adhere the crumbs to the cake so they don’t end up on the surface of the final layer of frosting). Clean off your spatula and scrape the remaining frosting onto the top of the cake. Spread evenly over the top and sides.

    • 11

      Press the remaining chopped toasted walnuts around the sides and over the top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    • 12

      Love Notes: Buttering the dish, lining it with parchment, then buttering and flouring that too might seem like overkill, but properly greasing your baking pans is important. You won’t be a happy camper if you can’t get the cake out of the pan or if it breaks while coming out. So coat the baking pans evenly in a thin layer of butter, vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, or nonstick cooking spray—even if you’re using parchment paper. Using parchment gives you insurance that your cake will come out of the pan. And buttering and flouring the parchment as well as the pan provides an extra barrier to keep the batter from saturating the parchment and negating its nonstick qualities.

    • 13

      Don’t be skimpy when sprinkling the pan with flour; add about 2 tablespoons and turn the pan around, letting the flour coat all the greased areas. The flour keeps the butter from melting off the pan and acts as yet another barrier between the batter and the pan. To get rid of the excess, turn it over and, holding it over the sink, tap it a few times while giving it a quarter turn (but don’t let the parchment fall out).

    • 14

      Cakes are fragile and can easily tear or fall apart when handled. Inverting the cakes onto racks and serving dishes is the best way to maneuver them without damaging them.

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