Updated: May 10, 2020
Easter time and that means carrot cake! This cake tastes and smells amazing!
Lets Get Started!
I have been wanting to make carrot cake for a while now but 2 things made me hesitate. 1) I am lazy and didn't want to shred the carrots. 2) It intimidated me. I am so happy Easter came around and it was the most requested cake by my family, so I figured it was time.
1. Preheat your oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F and spray your baking pans. If you are following the recipe, spray three 8" cake pans with baking spray, but I only have 9" cake pans so I made a 2 layer cake instead of three.
2. Shred those carrots! I started by shredding my carrots. You can use any normal box grater, but I have this grater that connects to a little bowl to catch whatever you are grating. This recipe says they like to use a smaller grater so smaller pieces. I tried going this route, but honestly it took too long, and I felt like I wasn't getting a lot of shreds. I went ahead and used the bigger shredder attachment. having bigger pieces of carrots will not make a difference in your cake.
3. Combine your dry ingredients. I went a little out of order than the recipe. It called for sifting all the dry ingredients together after you created your butter mixture. I don't want any of my wet ingredients sitting out too long so I wanted to prepare this beforehand. Sift together the flour, cinnamon, all-spice, cardamom, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Once you have sifted these, give it a little whisk to make sure it is all combined. Set aside.
4. Mix your wet ingredients. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the sugar, oil, eggs, sour cream, vanilla and applesauce together until creamy.
5. Add your dry ingredients. Add your dry ingredients to your wet mixture and stir until just combined. It is important not to over-mix your flour. I would suggest mixing this with your rubber spatula instead of beating it with the standing mixer.
6. Fold in your carrots (and coconut). Next step is to fold your carrots into the batter. I chose to add coconut to the cake as well and I folded this in with the carrots. If you are adding nuts, raisins, or any other additional ingredients this is where you want to add them. Remember to delicately fold them in as you don't want to over work your flour too much.
7. Lets bake it. Divide your batter evenly among your pans and place into the oven. Bake for 40 minutes and test the doneness with a toothpick. I put mine in for 35 minutes and tested my cake. Put the cake back in at 5 minutes increments until the toothpick is comes out clean or with dry crumbs.
When baking my cakes, I used cake strips. What are cake strips? You can read more about cake strips here. However, long story short, cake strips are often used to help keep your moisture in your cakes and to avoid having hard edges and a flat cake instead of a dome.
Here you can see DIY cakes strips which you can read all about in the link above.
Let your cakes cool and lets focus on the frosting. What kind of frosting can you make for a carrot cake other than cream cheese frosting?! It is creamy and delicious and really pairs well with carrot cake.
1. Sift your powdered sugar. Before doing anything sift your powdered sugar into a bowl. This is not a necessary step and you can skip this step altogether, but I have found that adding sifted powder sugar helps avoid lumps in your frosting. I actually skipped this step in this cake and if you look closely you can see some lumps that weren't worked out.
2. Mix your butter and cream cheese. Make sure your butter and cream cheese is room temperature. Cream these together in a standing mixer with a paddle attachment.
3. Add your vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add your vanilla and mix again until combined for 30 seconds.
4. Add powdered sugar. Lower your standing mixer speed to low and add your sifted (or unsifted) powdered sugar. Make sure the speed is low, you do not want your sugar exploding out of the mixer and getting everywhere. Mix on medium-high until well combined – about 5 minutes.
Make the buttercream!
For decorations, I made these little carrots coming out of the ground (out of the top of the cake) these carrots are made completely out of buttercream.
The first mistake I made was I forgot to leave out butter for this step. So my butter was not room temperature. I didn't want to wait for the butter to get fully room temperature so I tried warming it up other ways. I got impatient and used it while just a little bit softened and this made mixing and piping the buttercream SUPER difficult. If there is one thing you do, make sure your butter is softened and room temperature.
1. Make a buttercream paste. In a bowl, take your softened buttercream and combine with powdered sugar to make a paste. Add your sugar 1 cup at a time to avoid getting your mixture too stiff at once.
2. Divide your paste. Divide your buttercream paste into 2 small bowls. One bowl with more buttercream than the other.
3. Add your food coloring. To the bowl with more buttercream, add a couple drops of orange food coloring. These will be your carrots. Add green food coloring to the smaller bowl. This will be the leaves on top of the carrots. You can add as much coloring as you would to get your desired darkness in coloring. I did not have a orange food coloring, but I had red and yellow and created orange.
Build Your Cake
Once your cakes are cool and your frosting and buttercream are ready, it is time to build your cakes.
1. Make your crumb coat. Take your first layer and place it on top of a cake board on the turntable. To learn more about crumb coats you can read about them here.
Pipe frosting on top and spread evenly around the top of the cake. Once you have your desired amount of frosting add your top layer on top of the cake. Due to the cake strips, my cakes are nice and even with no dome. However, if you do have a dome, make sure to level your cakes before building.
Next, add frosting on top of your cake. Smooth the frosting on the top and down the sides so that you have a thin layer of frosting around the cake. This is your crumb coat. Set in the fridge for 30-45 minutes or in the freezer to speed up the setting process.
2. Add your second layer of frosting. Now that your crumb coat has set it is time you add another lay of frosting. Do the same as before, add a big dollop on top and smooth the top first. Then take the excess frosting and spread it along the sides. Take a smoother a smooth your edges to get a clean cake.
I still need practice to make my cakes seamless, but I am getting a lot better than where I started.
3. Time to add the carrots. Take your buttercream pastes and put them into piping bags. I used the two tips below to make the two different shapes. The one on the left for the grass effect and the tip on the right to get that carrot shape.
Pipe your carrots around the top of the cake. You can make them all the same size or make a variety of sizes. I went with the latter as not all carrots are the same size. It may be because my paste was so stiff but I had a hard time piping these. It took a lot of muscle to squeeze these out and they weren't sticking to the cake when I would pull the tip away.
The same thing happened with the grass on top. After I piped the grass of of the tip, which was even harder because the little holes were so small combined with an extremely stiff buttercream, I had to slightly press the grass into each carrot to get the grass to stay on top. Place the cake back into the fridge to set.
Overall this cake turned out great and was a huge hit! The carrots stayed together and tasted great.
Taste Tester Thoughts!
"Love the addition of coconut. This is so moist and good."
"Would have liked nuts added, but still a great cake."
"My new favorite that you have made."
"Best cake you've made so far and best carrot cake I've had."
Get This Recipe
What to make your own Carrot cake, go here for the full recipe and steps. Good luck!