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Lisa Schoenfein’s Carrot Cake

Adapted slightly from this recipe in Saveur
The most time-consuming part of making this otherwise easy cake is grating the 1½ pounds of carrots called for in the recipe, which is more than I've seen elsewhere. This amount ensures the cake is moist and naturally fragrant.
The original frosting recipe calls for 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, which I find way too sweet. I usually start with 1 cup and then add more by the tablespoon until I like the results. Between 1 and 1½ cups is enough for me.
Yield: This recipe makes one 8” stacked, round cake. For parties, I double the recipe and make a single-layer sheet cake (no need to double the frosting quantities).

Ingredients

For the cake

  • cups (170 g) flour
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup (160 ml) vegetable oil (such as canola or sunflower)
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ pounds (600 g) carrots, peeled, trimmed and grated on the large holes of a box grater (approx. 4 cups)

For the frosting

  • 12 oz. (335 g) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 7 tablespoons (100 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (110 g) confectioners’ sugar, plus more to taste

Instructions

Preparing the cake

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans (or one 11 x 15 inch sheet pan if doubling the recipe).
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl. Add the oil and eggs and whisk or stir until you have a smooth batter. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the carrots until just blended. They will release their juices as you stir, easing the process. Divide the batter between the two cake pans. Bake until the surfaces of the cakes are deeply golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, around 30-35 minutes (the original recipe calls for 25 minutes, although I have found this to be too short – with so many carrots in it, the cake has never dried out on me). Allow the cakes to cool on racks and then, in the case of the round cakes, remove from the pans. The sheet cake can be frosted directly in the pan once it has cooled completely.

Preparing the frosting

  • The original recipe says to use a high speed mixer to beat together the cream cheese, butter and vanilla extract until smooth and then to reduce the speed before adding the sugar. I have not always had a mixer, so have done this process both by hand and using a hand mixer. When mixed by hand, the frosting can be a bit lumpy, but still tastes great. I now use my Thermomix, which is akin to a super-powered blender, on a medium speed and get silky results. Too much speed can turn the frosting into liquid, which I discovered on the day of my wedding party.

Assembling the cake

  • If you're making a stacked round cake, place one of the rounds on a large plate and top with about one-third of the frosting. Spread the frosting into an even layer. Top with the second cake round and finish icing with the remaining frosting.
  • If you've doubled the recipe and are using a sheet pan, once the cake has cooled completely, spread the frosting across the top in a smooth, even layer.