I know Thanksgiving has come and gone, but I have one last recipe to share. This year on Thanksgiving I just felt like baking a carrot cake. I'm not really sure why, but it just sounded good to me. I've never made one before, and it definitley isn't on the top of my list of favorite cakes, but that doesn't at all mean I don't love a good carrot cake, I just like a lot of other cakes a little more! But this year a simple one layer carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and walnuts was calling my name.
I did some searching for a good recipe and ended up going with America's Test Kitchen recipe for lighter carrot cake. Since I don't have a go-to carrot cake recipe yet I figured why not just go with the slightly healthier version since I probably wouldn't notice the difference anyway. And I didn't. There was nothing about this cake that would have made me think that it was trying to be a 'lighter'. It was still delicious, moist and flavorful, slightly spiced and covered with a rich cream cheese frosting. Sprinkled with some toasted, chopped walnuts and cut into bite sized pieces, it was the perfect snack for Thanksgiving night, or any other night of the year!
Even though I did go with the lighter carrot cake, I had to go with the not-so-light cream cheese frosting, the lighter frosting just wasn't going to do it for me. It turned out delicious, as all cream cheese frostings do, you really can't go wrong with cream cheese and butter. I finished the cake off with some chopped, roasted walnuts, the perfect finish.
And with that it really couldn't be much easier. With oil instead of butter, and no need to layer the cake with the frosting it really is a quick and delicious cake. I will keep this one in my repertoire for years to come.
Lighter Carrot Cake
From America's Test Kitchen
- 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup (7 ounces) brown sugar
- 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 pound carrots (about 6 medium), peeled and grated (about 3 cups)
- Cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9 inch cake pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nugget, salt and cloves together in a medium bowl.
Beat the eggs, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together in a large bowl with and electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture turns thick and creamy, 1 to 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in the oil until thoroughly combined and emulsified, 30 to 60 seconds.
Sift half the flour mixture over the batter and gently whisk in by hand. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and continue to whisk the batter gently until most of the lumps are gone - do not overmix. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the carrots.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.
Cool the cake completely in the pan, about 2 hours. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and flip the cake out onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper then flip the cake right side up onto a serving platter. Spread the cream cheese frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake and serve.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese (or neufchâtel), softened
- 10 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 2 cups (8 ounces) powdered sugar
Beat the cream cheese, butter, sour cream, vanilla and salt together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, 2 to 4 minutes.
Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 4 to 6 minutes.