This is truly a celebration carrot cake, super moist, super flavorful and a total crowd-pleaser! Bake it in layers, fill and frost with cream cheese frosting with a splash of maple syrup and watch everyone smile as they eat. And it's freezer-friendly.
Another month, another birthday cake! After the Chocolate Dulce de Leche Cake, now it's time for a very different flavor palette.
It’s like playing in cake land, trying to make towering layers, all frosted and filled, some rusticity in the decoration, because it is me, after all, and you all know I don’t have the patience for those perfect layers.
This recipe today has apple in the batter, like the Carrot Pineapple Cake, it adds some sharpness and sweetness.
So we need flavor. When the dress is not nice you need the brains.
- Carrots - you can peel them or not. And I recommend grating them with a large-holed grater and at the last moment. That way they retain the moisture better and don't become soggy.
- Apple - I use Granny Smith (green ones) usually, but any baking apple works well. I like it chopped by hand in small pieces.
- Spices - adjust to your preference or to what you have available.
This cake seems much more laborious than it is.
- Mixing: the best way is to use a stand mixer because it's a dense cake and pretty large cake, so it's easier to beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.
- Sifted dry ingredients - don't skip this step, especially when you use baking soda which might sometimes clump together and will not dissolve during baking.
- Carrots and apple - they are an integral part of this cake recipe, of course, and don't be tempted to grate them finely as they will probably release too much liquid and the texture will not be the right one.
The same cream cheese frosting is used as a filling with a drizzle of maple syrup and chopped walnuts. So much falvor and richness!
You can omit the extras, but the nuts add a nice crunch and the syrup a lot of moistness and flavor.
Cream Cheese frosting
It's the perfect one for carrot cake. Period. So that's what we filled and frosted it with. It's so easy to make, keeps for weeks in the fridge and we all love it!
But we added some maple syrup as the liquid part. OMG, it's unreal how good it is. It has a smoky undertone that is out of this world.
And this carrot cake recipe delivers it. It’s hands down my favorite one, full of spices and moist as a baby’s pacifier. Make it any shape you want – in a tube pan, layers, cupcakes, loaves – it’s very adaptable.
- Keep the layers refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen for a month, well wrapped of course.
- It's always a good idea to fill and frost layers that are cold. It's easier and there's less chance of the cake falling or breaking.
- Assembled cake: keep in the refrigerator, well covered. This is important because the apple in the batter will start to ferment if left at room temperature for a few days. Trust me on this one.
I posted a Guide to Freezing Baked Goods & Dessert which might come in handy. We all prep and freeze savory food, but what about our sweet tooth? This post covers that.
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For the carrot cake:
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 ½ cups (330g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3 large eggs (room tº)
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup of water
- 1 ½ cups peeled, grated carrots (about 6oz)
- 1 apple (peeled, cored, and diced small)
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
For the maple cream cheese frosting:
- 1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup (110g) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 to 4 cups powdered sugar (or as needed)
- 1 cup whole walnuts (toasted, for filling and decoration)
- Maple syrup
For the carrot cake:
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Butter and flour (or spray) three 8-inch cake pans with removable bottoms. I highly recommend using 3 pans as this is a dense batter. If you use only one pan make you might be better using a 9 or 10-inch and making a 2 layer cake instead.
- Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl and reserve. Or have everything measure and sift them directly over the butter mixture.
- In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter for 1 minute.
- Gradually add both sugar beating continuously, for 3 or 4 minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add vanilla and mix.
- Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with water and milk in 2 additions. Do not over mix.
- Add the grated carrots, chopped apple, cream, and mix just until combined.
- Fill the cake pan with the batter, smooth top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tester inserted in center comes out clean. It might take more depending on the pan.
- Let cool completely on a wire rack and then unmold.
For the maple cream cheese frosting:
- In a bowl beat cream cheese and butter until very smooth.
- Add 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup at a time, and beat until smooth. Add maple syrup, and then add more sugar until you have a thick mixture good to frost.
- Have the 3 layers completely cooled down. You can make them a day ahead for best results. Keep them refrigerated.
- Reserve 8 walnut halves for decoration.
- Put the first layer on the cake stand or serving platter, and fill with about a cup of cream cheese frosting. Add a handful of coarsely broken walnuts, and a big drizzle of maple syrup.
- Repeat with the second layer, the frosting, walnuts, and syrup.
- Add the top layer and frost with a layer of cream cheese mixture. Make a swirl on top and decorate the sides with 8 half walnuts, one for each slice.
- Serve with extra maple syrup.
Carrots - you can peel them or not. And I recommend grating them with a large-holed grater and at the last moment. That way they retain the moisture better.
Apple - I use Granny Smith (green ones) usually, but any baking apple works well.
Spices - adjust to your preference or to what you have available.
Storing - keep the layers refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen for a month, well wrapped of course. It's always a good idea to fill and frost layers that are cold. It's easier and there's less chance of the cake falling or breaking. Assembled cake: keep in the refrigerator, well covered.
Keywords: carrot layer cake, carrot birthday cake
Adapted from The Buttercup Bakeshop, by Jennifer Appel