I think I was a junior in college when I made the best carrot cake I’d ever had. I was a carrot cake FIEND, I tell ya. But I was insane and never wrote that recipe down. So after years of talking about that beautiful carrot cake and reminiscing about that carrot cake, I decided it’s about time to shut up, stop being weird about it, and recreate it already.
And after slaving away in the kitchen and making one too many misses in trying to master this cake, I finally think I got it. No. I got it, for sure.
You don’t even know how much I’ve been obsessing over this cake.
This post was supposed to go up yesterday but because I fought tooth and nail with this cake until it was just the way I wanted it to be, I ended up really exhausted and just needed a breather. Plus, I have school/work which likes to get in the way because it’s rude like that.
But here it is.
And it takes me right back to that night (or morning, rather) in college when I decided it was absolutely imperative to bake a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting at 2 AM.
I was a little more than delirious. I had a really tough bout of “the finals” that had just ended that evening. And I hadn’t slept in about a week—pretty certain that was more than obvious from taking half a glance at me. I wore the same men’s flannel shirt, jeans, and flip-flops everyday that week. And after coming home from my last exam, I didn’t really know what to do with myself, so naturally I thought, “Well, I should build a cake!”
I drove over to Albertson’s grocery store, bought a pound of carrots and whatever else, drove back home, put on a Dave Matthews CD, and started making my carrot cake.
Then my dad walked into the kitchen and I thought, “Oh crap, I woke everyone up now!”
He asked what I was doing. I said, “Making a carrot cake.” And so he just took the grater from me and started grating the carrots right there. We made the cake while listening to Dave Matthews (and to my total surprise my SUPER Persian baba admitted that he enjoyed that music—it was Dave’s Some Devil album just in case), and when it was ready we ate a slice or 2 of the cake each. 3 AM.
See, carrot cake memories are awesome.
For my first birthday away in grad school, my sister and nieces actually sent a whole carrot cake that they had baked. It was still hot when they rushed it to the post office right before closing. And it arrived fresh, right on my birthday!
This carrot cake recipe makes the most flavorful and softest cake. It’s quite a simple recipe. The ingredients, you probably already have at home. It’s got walnuts and raisins. And personally, there’s no way I’d exclude them. I mean, you’re eating a cake of carrots. What’s so crazy about the walnuts and raisins again? So yeah, let’s just put them in, OK? Unless you hate them, you hate me, or obviously, if you’re allergic (to the nuts… or to me. same difference).
Oh and before I let you go, this is the BEST cream cheese frosting you’ll ever have. It’s perfectly textured, tangy but not too tangy, sweet, fluffy, and dreamy.
And there’s still some cake left waiting in the kitchen so… OK, I go now.
The Best Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the Cake:
- 1 ⅓ cup olive oil + extra for greasing pans
- 1 cup granulated sugar or rapadura
- 1 cup brown sugar tightly packed when measuring it out (may also use rapadura)
- 4 eggs
- 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour + a little extra for the pans
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder aluminum-free
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4 cups grated fresh carrots 1 lb---use the 2nd largest grate setting
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup raisins
For the Frosting:
- 1 ⅔ blocks of cream cheese 13 oz total, room temperature
- 2 sticks butter 8 oz. or 1 cup, room temperature
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350ºF (~176ºC).
- Generously grease two 9-inch baking pans with olive oil.
- Add about ¼ cup of flour to each pan and move the pan around, tapping, to get the pan coated with flour. Tap out the excess.
- In a large bowl, add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and olive oil. Mix with electric mixer. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well.
- Add flour to the bowl and right on top of the flour add in the cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Using a spoon/fork, simply try to mix just the dry ingredients together with a spoon/fork to disperse the ingredients. Then use the electric mixer to incorporate all the ingredients together until just combined. Don’t overbeat.
- Use a spatula/large spoon to stir in carrots, walnuts, and raisins.
- Pour this batter evenly between both cake pans and put the pans in the oven for 30 minutes or until a fork poked through the middle comes out clean.
- Allow cakes to cool completely cool before frosting them so that the frosting doesn’t melt.
For the Frosting:
- In a medium-large bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter using an electric mixer.
- Mix in sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat well.