I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with Martha Stewart over the last 12 years. It only makes sense that a woman who churns out so many recipes would produce a few duds and an occasional doozie. For the moment, she’s in my good graces. Martha might have to come to my home and throw out my Thanksgiving turkey 10 minutes before dinner to undo all the good she has done with this carrot cake recipe.
Carrot cake isn’t really something that’s ever made me sit upright in the middle of the night. The cream cheese frosting that typically adorns such a cake, yes. The cake itself, not so much. Veggies for dessert – it’s an oxymoron. And blasphemy.
This cake is simply the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten. The cake is very moist. It isn’t overly-spiced – I think that the cinnamon and ginger is perfect enough. The cream cheese frosting? Well, that just goes without saying.
No photo essay of the four layer slice of heaven that graced the Mother’s Day dessert table – it didn’t last the afternoon.
Carrot Ginger Layer Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Fresh orange juice and ginger make the very best carrot cake and cream cheese frosting.
- Unsalted butter, for pans
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 1 cup (3 ounces) pecan halves
- 1 lb large carrots, peeled
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- For the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 (8-oz each) cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 cups confectioners
- 1 Tbsp freshly grated orange zest
- 2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
- Pinch of salt
- Splash of orange juice
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans. Dust pans with flour, and tap out any excess. Set pans aside. Spread pecans in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan, and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and let stand until completely cool. Reduce temperature to 300 degrees. Finely chop pecans, and set aside.
- Using the smallest holes (less than 1/4 inch in diameter) of a box grater, grate carrots, yielding 2 1/2 cups. Place carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, vegetable oil, and ginger in a large bowl; whisk until well combined.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until combined. Fold in the toasted pecans.
- Divide batter between the two cake pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the middles comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.
- Using a serrated knife, trim tops of the cakes so surfaces are level. Slice each layer in half horizontally. Place a layer on a cake stand or cardboard round, and spread 3/4 cup frosting over top. Place a second cake layer on top, and spread with another 3/4 cup frosting. Repeat with third layer and another 3/4 cup frosting. Place last cake layer on top, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and the sides of the assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill 3 to 4 hours.
- To make the frosting, place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, and beat until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add the remaining ingredients, and beat 5 minutes more. Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days. Makes 5 cups.
Yields: 4-layer 8 or 9 inch cake
Estimated time: 1 hour 30 minutes