How you doin’? When you think of carrot cake, you think healthy and low-calorie, right? After all anything made from carrots has got to be good for you. That may have been the case at one time, but that is likely not the case with many contemporary carrot cake recipes.
Many food historians believe carrot cake originated from carrot puddings eaten by Europeans in the Middle Ages when sugar and sweeteners were expensive, and many people used carrots as a substitute for sugar and honey.
The origins of carrot cake are disputed (like so many things in food history—I did it—no, he did it—no, they did it—so confusing). Published in 1591, there is an English recipe for "pudding in a Carret root" that is essentially a carrot stuffed with meat, but it includes many elements common to the modern dessert. It had some shortening, a little cream, a few eggs, a hand full of raisins, sweetener (dates and sugar), a little spice (clove and mace), some breadcrumbs (in place of flour) and, of course, some carrot scrapings.
Antoine Beauvilliers, a former chef to Louis XVI, included a recipe for a "Gâteau de Carottes," which was popular enough to be copied verbatim in competitors' cookbooks. In 1824, Beauvilliers published an English version of his cookbook which included a recipe for "Carrot Cakes."
Blah, blah, blah… I could go on for hours, but let’s just fast forward several decades to modern day times. The popularity of carrot cake was revived in the United Kingdom because of rationing of food ingredients during the World War II (that was the Big One). Then I came around and re-wrote the recipe for one of our theme park clients. I can tell you that this recipe is my favorite birthday cake and is completely indulgent. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time to make.
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Bake Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Assembly time: 15 minutes
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
4-layer / 10-inch (or a 6-layer 8-inch cake)
NOTE: This recipe makes a VERY large cake should be refrigerated.
If you don't have the space or the appetite, cut the recipe in half!
For the cake
2 cups vegetable oil (not butter)
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup golden brown sugar
5 large eggs
2-2/3 cups fine grated carrots,
1-1/3 cups chopped walnuts, toasted (or your favorite nut)
1-1/3 cups pineapple, crushed and drained
2/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup raisins soaked in a cup of rum to plump—discard the rum
1 teaspoon orange zest
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 tablespoons baking soda
1-1/3 tablespoons baking powder
2-2/3 tablespoons cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
For cream cheese frosting
16 ounces cream cheese
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the topping
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup coconut flakes, toasted
To make the cake
ChefSecret: When I assemble layer cakes, I freeze the layers first. It makes it that much easier to frost the layers. Another reason to do this is if you only have a couple of cake pans and need to bake a second batch of layers.
Covid-19 Quip of the Day: “It turns out that when asked who your favorite child is, you’re supposed to pick one of your own. I know that now.”
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