I have vivid memories of Easter Sunday’s from when I was a child. Dyeing eggs with those little tablets that would dissolve in water. Easter egg hunts in Grandmas backyard. And waking up on Sunday morning and running downstairs to see five beautifully decorated and filled Easter baskets waiting for my siblings and I. My mother always spent hours picking out each item that would go into the individual baskets and arrange them in a particular way. She would wrap them gently in cellophane and tie it all together with a beautiful bow.
We would all wake up at various times and wait patiently until everyone was there and ready to open their basket. I loved seeing the special gift my mother picked out for me, usually a lip gloss or some sort of art supply. Easter candy was some of my favorite too. I always looked forward to the mini Cadbury Eggs, Peeps, etc. I even remember the one year I broke my arm a few days before Easter and my Grandma went to the store and bought me a two foot tall chocolate bunny to cheer me up. Easter reminds me of early mornings filled with Easter baskets and large family barbecues with Easter Egg Hunts.
When I have children someday I hope to keep up on all of those same Easter traditions we had when I was a child.
Now, on to this weeks recipe. Since it’s Easter weekend, I thought I would make a classic Easter recipe, Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. To be honest, I never liked Carrot Cake up until a couple years ago. As a kid I thought that a dessert with carrots sounded disgusting. My mother used to buy little squares of carrot cake wrapped in plastic wrap from the grocery store and I always thought that it looked awful. And then I had carrot cake, per Jake’s request of course, from our favorite local cafe and my mind was forever changed.
It was moist, sweet, and perfectly spiced. The frosting was sweet yet slightly tangy. It was the best carrot cake I had ever had. I didn’t even know that I liked carrot cake. But, like many things, Jake showed me a good one and changed my mind. And then I made my own Carrot Cake…
And you guys, this carrot cake is the best. It uses a blend of spices of cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg to create a warm taste. It also uses freshly ground carrots which have better flavor and texture than those ‘match stick’ carrots that are sold in plastic bags. The best ingredient in this recipe is the Walnut Oil. Typically in carrot cake recipes they just use any neutral oil such as canola oil, vegetable oil, etc. The oils main purpose is to keep the cake ultra moist. I decided that it could also serve another purpose. Taste. I decided to use Pure Walnut Oil from La Tourangelle which gives the cake a slightly nutty flavor that is in addition to the ground walnuts that are already in the cake.
The Cream Cheese Frosting is also top-notch. It uses the perfect ratio of butter and cream cheese to create rich and tangy frosting. It also uses vanilla bean seeds which adds just the slightest hint of vanilla flavor. It is tangy, sweet, and silky smooth. It truly is the perfect pair with my carrot cake!
This all results in a Carrot Cake that is moist, nutty, perfectly spiced, and oh-so sweet. It is the perfect cake to serve on your Easter Sunday gathering. If cake is not your thing you could half the recipe and make cupcakes instead! Regardless, this Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting will be a big hit at any event! And in my opinion, Carrot Cake is not a dessert that is exclusive to Easter weekend. I make Carrot Cake a couple times throughout the year because it is just so delicious! Since it’s technically a ‘spiced’ cake it would be wonderful to serve around the holidays! Carrot Cake really is a year-round dessert.
If you try this recipe or any other from A Common Kitchen, please share your photos and feedback with me. I’d love to hear from you! Happy Easter everyone, I hope it is wonderful!
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes One (Eight Inch) Three Tiered Cake
For the Carrot Cake:
2 ½ CupsAll Purpose Flour
1 ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 ½ Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
¾ Teaspoon Ground Cardamom
¼ Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 Cup Walnuts, coarsely ground in a food processor
3 Cups Fresh Grated Carrots
6 Eggs, room temperature
2 Cups White Granulated Sugar
450 ml Walnut Oil (can substitute for another neutral oil such as canola, vegetable, avocado)
For the Frosting
16 Tablespoons Butter, softened
16 Ounces Cream Cheese, softened
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
Seeds from 1 Vanilla Bean Pod
7 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
To Make the Carrot Cake Layers
Preheat oven to 350℉ and grease three (8 inch) round cake pans with some of the walnut oil or other neutral oil if using. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg until fully combined. Add in the ground walnuts and mix until combined. Add in the carrot and mix again until combined. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the eggs and sugar on medium speed until pale and slightly fluffy, about two minutes.
Turn the mixer speed to low and slowly drizzle in the oil, taking about two minutes to add all of the oil. Once all of the oil is added turn the mixer speed to medium-high and mix for 1 more minute.
Stop the mixer and add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until combined, about 20 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix on low speed for another 15-20 seconds.
Divide the batter evenly between the three cake pans and use an offset spatula to level out the batter into an even flat layer.
Place the cake pans in the center rack of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely.
To Make the Cream Cheese Frosting
In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, cream cheese, kosher salt, and vanilla bean seeds until pale and fluffy, a full five minutes.
Add in the sifted powdered sugar two cups at a time, starting the mixer on low and then increasing to medium high and mix for 1 minute. Repeat with the remaining powdered sugar, working in cups of two, mixing for one minute in between each addition. Once all of the powdered sugar is added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix on medium-high speed for one more minute.
Place a small layer dollop of cream cheese frosting on a cake board or directly onto a cake platter. Place one layer of cake down. Add about ½ cup of cream cheese frosting on top of the layer and even it out with an offset spatula. Top with the second layer of cake. Add another ½ cup of buttercream on top of the layer and even it out with an offset spatula. Top with the lat layer of cake.
Apply a thin and even layer of the cream cheese frosting all around the cake using a large flat cake spatula or bench scraper— this is a crumb coat. Place the cake in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or until the frosting is hardened.
Take the cake out of the fridge and frost the cake using the remaining cream cheese frosting in whichever way/design you’d like. I added a drop of pink gel food coloring to about ¼ cup of frosting and mixed it in. I applied a good layer of the white frosting all around the cake and then used an offset spatula to add random “bloops” of the pink frosting all around the cake. I then used a bench scraper to even it out to create a watercolor effect (this is a great video on how to do this technique!). I then used some leftover cake scraps and grated them with a microplane and topped the cake with those. However, you can decorate it however you would like.
Slice and enjoy!