Moist spiced carrot cake with cream cheese icing

Some friends were visiting us from out of town recently and my husband and I offered to host them for a meal.  It turned out that they weren’t available for dinner so we decided on lunch instead.  I wracked my brain trying to figure out how to make a great meal for lunch (without making a stereotypical quiche).  Despite my husband’s suggestion that we could just serve dinner but at lunch time, I wanted to offer some (slightly) lighter fare.  My husband thought I was crazy when I told him I had every intention of making a dessert for our ‘light’ lunch.  I was torn, most of my usual desserts are incredibly rich and often chocolate filled.  For some reason, a chocolate dessert seems inappropriate for lunch (I have no idea why) so I decided I would make a cake instead.  I narrowed it down to this carrot cake, and a cheesecake that is always popular.  My husband requested this cake, he especially loves the icing.  This is my mother’s recipe, I’ve just changed the icing and adjusted quantities of the spices.  Despite the fact that it is by no means low calorie, this cake feels less heavy than others because it uses oil, not butter, and loads of freshly grated carrot and spices.  You could, of course, reduce the calories by serving it in loaf form without the icing but where’s the fun in that?

4 eggs (large)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups canola oil
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups grated carrot (you could do this by hand or in a processor, I personally like buying matchstick carrots for simplicity)
1 cup unsweetened crushed pineapple, with juices
1 tsp almond extract (if you are making this for someone with nut allergies, you could substitute for lemon juice)
Springform pan (you can use a regular cake pan, but it makes it more difficult)

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Lightly grease your pan.  In a small bowl, beat your eggs then add your sugars, almond extract & oil. Continue to beat until your mixture becomes light & creamy.


In a large bowl, sift your dry ingredients together.  Next, switch your bowls and fold your liquids into the sifted dry ingredients.  Add your carrots and pineapple and beat until blended, avoid overmixing.


Pour your batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 30-40 min until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool until room temperature on a wire rack.  If you want a layered cake, simple use 2 baking pans and divide your batter evenly.


1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ½ cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat your cream cheese and butter on high until smooth then reduce the heat to low and slowly beat in the icing sugar and vanilla.  Add your icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time to avoid a mess.  Increase the speed to high and continue to beat until your icing is smooth and fluffy.


Invert your cake on a platter to ensure the top will be flat.  Ice your cake with a very thin layer of frosting and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.  This is the ‘crumb layer’ and does not need to look good.  If you have decided to make a layered cake instead, ‘glue’ your halves together before spreading your ‘crumb layer’.


Finally, frost your cake with the remainder of the icing and refrigerate 1-2 hours until set.  This cake is most delicious at room temperature so remove from the fridge 20-30 minutes before serving.





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