Nothing beats the old-fashioned goodness of a perfectly moist carrot cake with a rich cream cheese frosting. The depth of the flavors and spices is an amazing taste to behold, making this classic dessert a favorite of many. We can feel good about the fact that we’re also eating our vegetables when we have a piece of carrot cake, but that doesn’t really matter does it? We eat it because it’s delicious. So, so very delicious.
Below are some tips to help you make the very best carrot cake you possibly can:
- Use Fresh Carrots—
Carrots are almost fruit-like in their sweetness, making them a popular choice for fresh juices, breads and oh yes… carrot cake. Be sure to buy the freshest carrots possible because the fresher they are, the more tender they will make your carrot cake. If you can afford organic carrots, even better, as organic fruits and vegetables are well-known for their great flavor, as well as health benefits.
- Soak Dried Fruit in Water—
If you are planning to use raisins in your carrot cake—or perhaps dried cranberries if you’re bringing the carrot cake to a festive holiday dinner—be sure to soak the raisins in warm water for a few minutes. This will cause them to re-hydrate, becoming plump and juicy, which will add moisture to your carrot cake.
- Blend Dry Ingredients Well—
You can use a spoon to blend the dry ingredients, but if you have one handy, nothing gets the lumps out of baking soda, flour and spices quite like a sifter. Because nothing ruins a bite of carrot cake like a salty lump of baking soda or a chunk of flour that didn’t get mixed in. Blend the ingredients well to give your carrot cake the smoothest texture possible.
- Use Oil Instead of Butter—
Most serious bakers are big fans of butter, and rightly so, as it adds a flavor to many baked goods that can’t be denied. But carrot cake is an exception to this rule, perhaps because the grated carrots already add such a large amount of moisture. Using a lighter type of oil like vegetable or canola will help keep your cake moist without making it too dense or heavy.
- Try Creative Additions—
Once you’ve mastered the perfect classic carrot cake, you might want to have fun experimenting a little with different spices, nuts and fruits your family or dinner guests might enjoy in a dessert. Use golden raisins instead of the traditional, or add pineapple and coconut to your carrot cake to give it a tropical flair.
Many cooks use walnuts instead of the more traditional pecans to mix it up (with the bonus of the walnut’s heart-healthy Omega-3s), or even add walnut oil to give the cake a nuttier flavor. If a spicier cake is desired, you can add nutmeg, ginger and cloves to the classic cinnamon to jazz things up.
Some other fun ideas if you’re feeling brave would be to add vanilla, almond extract, citrus zest, bananas, dates, chocolate chips, dried mango or papaya bits, dried cranberries, dried currants or even dried blueberries if you’re feeling daring.
Now that you’re craving carrot cake, here’s a very basic carrot cake recipe for you to make your own by using the 5 tips above:
Classic Carrot Cake
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 1½ cups oil
- 4 eggs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease 9×13 pan.
- Beat all ingredients together in a large bowl until well blended and pour mixture into pan.
- Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool before frosting.
Be sure to grease your pans well, as carrot cake has a tendency to stick, and don’t forget that you can add orange or lemon zest to your cream cheese frosting to give it a little extra zing!
No matter what your particular carrot cake style may be, this classic American favorite is sure to be a crowd-pleaser every time.