by Marykate Smith Despres, Salem Depot
Who doesn’t love carrot cake? Sure, it’s technically a dessert, but it has fruit, nuts and vegetables, so that makes it kind of healthy, right? This is the best carrot cake recipe you will ever come across. It’s adapted from the fabulous Dorie Greenspan.
for the cake:
2 c all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
2 t ground cinnamon
3/4 t salt
3 c grated carrots (about 9 carrots)
1 c coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 c shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
1/2 c moist, plump raisins or dried cranberries
2 c sugar
1 c canola oil
4 large eggs
Tweaks: I don’t use quite as much sugar and coconut as called for. I’d say I use about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of coconut – anything more is just too sweet for me, especially considering that this cake has frosting. Also, I always use walnuts and raisins, not pecans and cranberries. Though sometimes I use walnuts and raisins and cranberries, depending on what I have on hand.
Preheat oven to 325. Mix oil and sugar until smooth. Add eggs. Add flour and powders. Add chunkier dry ingredients last. The cake bakes for 40-50 min.
for the frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 lb (3 3/4 c) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 T fresh lemon juice or 1/2 t lemon extract
1/2 c shredded coconut
More tweaks: Again, I reduce the sugar – to anywhere from 2 to 3 cups – and completely omit the coconut from the frosting.
In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and cream cheese. Slowly add sugar and, if you’re using it, coconut and beat until smooth. Mix in lemon juice or extract last.
Frost your cake after it’s completely cool. Dorie frosts her carrot cake in layers, but I save it all for the top and sides.
This recipe makes a nice, big cake and I find we just can’t (or shouldn’t) eat it all unless we have friends to share it with, so I often adapt this recipe to make cupcakes instead. (Cupcakes are nice and portable and, I have found, tend to get eaten off a staff room table more readily than slices of cake). Simply pour your batter into greased muffin tins and bake at the same until cupcakes are firm and a knife, when stuck into the center, comes out clean.