Since childhood I’ve been amazed at the way carrots transform themselves when baked into a cake. You don’t even know they’re there. I remember thinking when I was a boy: someone’s gotta be pulling my leg. This carrot cake is a far cry from the overly dense, overly moist cakes that I ate as a kid in the 70′s. And it’s not because the cake doesn’t have much carrot in it — there’s a full pound in there. It’s light and pleasing even so. Add frosting to it or don’t, either way it’s very worthwhile.
Begin by preheating your oven to 350. You’ll also want to line two 9″ cake layer pans with baking parchment according to these directions. Once that’s done, coarsely grate a pound of peeled carrots.
Pour your flour into a sifter (strainer) situated in a bowl on a scale.
Once you have the right amount, sift the flour into the bowl.
Add the leavening, spices and salt…
…and whisk it together with a fork.
Now for the wet stuff. Combine the sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle.
Beat the mixture on medium speed about 45 seconds until it’s well blended, then add the flour all at once.
Turn the machine down to medium-low and stir in the flour — about 30 seconds, until it’s barely been incorporated. Then scrape down the sides to make sure there’s no unincorporated flour anywhere in the bowl.
Add the carrots.
Stir those in for 10-15 seconds, as well as the raisins or nuts if you’re using them. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans…
…and bake 45-55 minutes until a cake tester or knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool the cakes in the pans for about 10 minutes, then turn the layers out onto a very lightly greased parchment-lined rack (this will keep the tops from sticking to the rack). Peel off the parchment. Eat the cakes plain (very nice) or press on and make a layer cake.
Since these layers usually turn out quite flat on top and mostly square, there’s usually no need to trim them up as with butter cake layers. Simply apply one of the layers to a cardboard cake circle, put the circle on a revolving cake stand (three stationary cans of soup or vegetables will also work well as an elevated base) and ice the cake with one recipe of cream cheese frosting.
Refrigeration will firm up the frosting some if you wish. If not — eat!