I can’t tell you exactly when I decided that Carrot Cake was the birthday cake for me, but for the last two years it has been my go-to. If you know me, you know I'm usually a peanut butter and chocolate kind of girl, but there’s just something about the autumn vibe of carrot cake that resonates with me. As an August baby, I used to love this time of year: the excitement of starting school again, the air cooling down enough for sweaters, and the flavors of fall baked goods! The spices used in my carrot cake transport me to a cozy cabin in the mountains sitting by the fireplace with my family of dragons. Wait, what? Whatever, it’s my dream, and I’m gonna lean into it. Tiny dragons with bad allergies that sneeze fire bubbles!
What's your favorite birthday cake?
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Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
3/4 cup smooth unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups grated carrots (about 4 large)
1 c. raisins
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
8 ounces block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 teaspoons heavy cream
3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the chopped pecans and walnuts on the sheet and toast for 6-7 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Grease two 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper.
Mix the brown sugar, granulated sugar, oil, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla together in a large bowl until combined. In another large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold the ingredients together until just combined. Fold in the carrots, raisins, and 1/2 cup of the toasted pecans and walnuts. (The rest of the pecans/walnuts are for decoration.)
Pour the batter into the cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Allow the cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes until completely combined and creamy.
Frost cake as desired and garnish with pecans.
Cover leftover frosted cake tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.