I remember the first time I had carrot cake. I was around 10, and I had my first bite at a Starbucks around the holiday season. My mom used to surprise my siblings and me after school with a trip to Starbucks. We would sip our hot chocolates and roam the aisles in search of new books.
What initially caught my eye was the orange “carrot” icing that stood in stark contrast to the crisp white cream cheese frosting. At first, the concept of placing real carrots inside a cake appeared odd to me. Afterall, carrots are vegetables. However, in due time, it dawned on me that adding vegetables to baked goods is an act of pure genius.
That first bite was love at first sight. Many years later I embarked on a mission to make carrot cake myself. The recipe that I use was passed on to me by my aunt. I treasure the little piece of notebook paper that holds the secret to this carrot cake recipe. However, I decided to amp up my recipe by drizziling a bourbon caramel sauce on top. I know, I am crazy, but trust me this combination works!
If you are looking for a carrot cake recipe that is moist, is filled with a medley of warm spices, and is topped off with a decadent cream cheese frosting – then my carrot cake recipe is perfect for you.
Like I said, vegetables in cake is pure genius. Every time you eat a slice of carrot cake, you’re practically getting one serving of vegetables. That’s how it works right?
For the ingredients, you will notice that this recipe does not use butter. This avoids a lot of hassle in needing to set your butter out the night before to soften. While butter in cakes adds moisture and leads to a better crumb, I find that vegetable oil works just as well.
As for the spices, I use a mix of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and all-spice. The dominant spice being cinnamon. When this cake is baking, it smells incredibly divine. I liken it to Christmas morning, as the scent is reminiscent of wintertime.
The most important ingredient, of course, are carrots. I use about 4 small carrots or 3 large ones. You want to have at least 2 -3 cups worth of shredded carrots for this carrot cake recipe.
Finally, you can bake the carrot cake in a bundt pan, or in two 9-inch baking pans, like I did for this recipe. Please read the note on cooking times for these two methods!
If you’ve been on Instagram enough times you will know there is a huge trend towards drizzle cakes. Combined with the “naked cake” look, I think the aesthetic looks wonderful. I have been dying to try out my hand at drizzling cakes. After watching a bunch of tutorials I figured I could do it.
Well, let me tell you something… It is not as easy as it looks. I think part of the problem is that my caramel sauce was slightly too liquidy and I do not think I let my cake freeze long enough so that the icing provided a good base for the drizzles. With that being said, the flavour combination is unbeatable despite the fact that my cake looked like a hot mess. However, it was a tasty hot mess nonetheless.
You can certianly omit the caramel sauce for this cake and just stick to the cream cheese icing. However, I think you’d be missing out on some explosive flavours in your mouth!
The perfect blend of cinnamon, spice, and everything nice. This carrot cake recipe is moist and tender, and the cream cheese frosting compliments every bite you take.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and grease either a bundt pan or two 9-inch cake pans. Please see note below about baking times.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugars. It will look lumpy, but you want to ensure that the oil is properly mixed with the sugar. About 5 minutes.
Beat in 1 egg at a time until each egg is thoroughly blended. The mixture should have a nice sheen to it. Add the vanilla, salt and the spices. Afterwards, slowly add in the flour about 1/2 cup at a time, but do not over mix.
While there are still strands of flour, fold in the shredded carrots, and mix until just combined. Do not overmix the cake batter or it will develop a tough and dry crumb.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan(s) and cook* until properly baked. While the carrot cake is baking, combine the ingredients for the cream cheese frosting. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.
Bring sugar, cream, and butter to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. The mixture will begin to bubble up and thicken. Remove from heat; stir in bourbon and vanilla. Let it cool completely before drizzling it on top of the cake.
* If you are baking the cake in a bundt pan, you will bake the cake for 35 - 60 minutes. At the 35 minute mark, check to see if your cake is cooked. From there you will continue to check every 5 minutes. Depending on your bundt pan, the cake may take longer to cook (up to an hour)
**If you are cooking the cake in the cake pans, you will cook it for 20 - 35 minutes. Check the cake at the 20-minute mark, and then from there check every 5 minutes.
Let the cake cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes before removing and placing it on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
The cake will keep up to 4 days if properly covered (in a cake dome or with plastic wrap, or in a container).