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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Best Carrot Cake Ever

My wife recently asked about making a carrot cake.  I was up to the challenge and volunteered to make it.  I looked in my Alton Brown book: I’m Just Here for More Food – Baking, and found a promising recipe, but it did not have raisins or walnuts so we ruled that one out.  My wife checked through our recipe files and found several carrot cake recipes, but not the one that she used to make.  That sent me to the internet to find the best recipe I could.

On the site, I found a recipe for the “Best Carrot Cake Ever”.  That is quite the name and I was interested to see if the final product could live up to it.  The recipe didn’t include any information on frosting so I went back to my Alton Brown baking book and found his recipe for Better Cream Cheese Frosting on page 130.  I knew that I would be making some cream cheese frosting, so on my last visit to the store I purchased two packages of cream cheese.

I started by washing, peeling and grating about ten carrots to make six grated cups.  I started to grate with our box grater, but quickly switched to the food processor with the grater plate.  I placed the six cups of grated carrots in a medium bowl, added the cup of brown sugar and one cup of raisins, and stirred them together.  I covered the carrot mixture and per the recipe left it to sit for an hour.

While planning to make the carrot cake, I read in the Alton Brown book that carrot cake is actually a muffin, and to use the muffin method when mixing the ingredients.  The muffin method consists of sifting all the dry ingredients together, mixing all the wet ingredients together, and then combining the dry and wet together, but leaving the mixture lumpy.

I was not too excited about sifting the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together, then I read in Alton’s book, that he uses his food processor to mix the dry ingredients.  I already had the food processor out, so I washed the bowl and used the blade to mix everything together.  It took about three minutes and I had to scrape the inside of the bowl once to get some of the flour off the wall so it would integrate.  When I finished, I had a very well mixed set of dry ingredients that I transferred to a large mixing bowl.

With the dry ingredients mixed, I started on the wet ingredients.  I decided to use the food processor for this step.  Into the food processor bowl, I added the eggs, white sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and mixed it for about two minutes.  What a great job the food processor did on all the ingredients.  I added the sugar as part of the wet ingredients per Alton’s book that the sugar dissolves and easily integrates into the wet portion.

Using a large spatula, I stirred the wet portion into the dry.  I stopped just before everything was well mixed and added the crushed pineapple, walnuts, and the carrot mixture.  I stirred just enough to combine the ingredients and stopped mixing.

I had already prepared two ten inch aluminum cake pans with shorting and flour, so I poured the cake batter into both pans trying to get each pan with the same amount (I could have weighed each one, but I was not being that exact).

I baked both cake pans on the center rack of our oven at 350 degree for forty-five minutes and they emerged cooked to perfection.  I cooled the pans for about ten minutes on top of the stove, then used a knife to go around the side of each pan to loosen the cakes.  I turned each cake over onto a cooling rack and removed the pan.  My wife and I went for a walk so the cakes would have a chance to fully cool before I worked on the frosting.

I mixed the frosting in our stand mixer using the beater bar.  The recipe consists of two boxes of cream cheese, one stick of softened butter, 1/2-teaspoon of vanilla extract and nine ounces of confectioners ’ sugar (I used powdered sugar and it worked fine).  I mixed until it was cream, and then put it in the refrigerator for ten minutes to cool.

When it was time to frost the cakes, I cut a piece of parchment paper a little larger than the bottom of the cakes and set it on our cake plate, and then I put one of the cake rounds on the parchment paper.  I frosted the top of the first round, and then I dropped the second round on top and finished frosting the top and sides of the cake.

After dinner, my wife and I both enjoyed a piece of the carrot cake.  The verdict from my wife is that this is indeed the best carrot cake ever.  It was very moist inside and had a nice course texture with the carrots, nuts, raisins, and the pineapple.  We could really pick out the taste of the carrots, which is often masked in other carrot cakes.

This cake is on my list to make again, I do not think I would change anything in the way I make it, as you cannot improve on perfect.

Find the recipe here:

Adventures In Food: Author: Kerry Howell


  1. sounds tasty! i'd like to try that sometime!

    do you have that recipe for banana creme pudding pie we enjoyed the other day?

  2. I tried Barefoot Contessa's version of that carrot cake, and it's very similar to what you stated here. Time consuming though, but definitely worth the flavor!