I've been promising this recipe for at a least a month and now that I'm sharing it - I couldn't find my darn photos! At least I have the finished product, that's what really matters, because this completely from scratch recipe (frosting and all) is as easy to make as it is delicious.
On a side note, those of you who chat with me on Twitter and Facebook may have noticed me talking recently about my concerns with eating too much sugar and too many artificial and processed foods. I've begun making some changes in the items I buy and the way I cook and am 'perfecting' some all-natural, sugar-free and wholesome recipes that I hope to share with you soon. These include a sugar free carrot cake and brown rice pudding, just to name a couple desserts. I'll also be sharing what I learn about substituting whole grain and natural ingredients in your favorite recipes (and my previous recipes posted), so if you, too, are trying to make these changes in your diet - stay tuned!
But first, here's my favorite recipe for simple, good old fashioned, bare bones homemade carrot cake with rich cream cheese frosting. While it does call for all-purpose flour and refined and powdered sugar, making anything from scratch is better for you (and better tasting) than any box mix you'll find, or at least I think so, so start here and work your way up to the whole wheat, sugar free version I'll be sharing soon. You'll find a printable recipe card at the end of this post.
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional - but I use 2!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups finely shredded carrot (lightly packed)
3/4 cup oil
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 to 6 cups powdered sugar
Allow eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease two 8" or 9" round cake pans. Line the pans with wax paper, then grease the wax paper. You don't have to use the wax paper but it makes it so much easier! For greasing, I use Pam with Flour spray, I love the stuff.
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl stir flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. In another bowl mix eggs, grated carrot* and oil. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until blended. Divide the batter between the two pans.
*Baking Tip: If your carrots are not shredded fine enough, they may sink to the bottom of your cake when baking.
Bake at 350° for 3o - 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes then remove the cakes and cool completely on the wire racks.
To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a large bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy. Begin adding the powdered sugar, beating as you go, a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency. It will be thick and hard to mix as you go, but it'll get there! This recipe yields enough to frost the top and sides of two round cakes, along with some for in between the layers. (You can half the recipe if you're frosting a 13x9 cake.)
To frost the cake, make sure it is completely cooled. Lay the first cake rounded top down on a plate and brush any loose crumbs away from the surface and edges with your hands or a pastry brush. Spread about 1/2 cup frosting on top and smooth. Next place the second cake on top with the rounded side facing up and begin frosting the sides, going about 1/4" above the cake. Last frost the top. You can sprinkle the top and sides with chopped nuts if desired, but I prefer it plain and simple. Enjoy!