I truly enjoy baking, especially for a special occasion.  I’ve been making this carrot cake recipe for 30 years.  The texture of the cake is smooth and the cream cheese icing adds just the right touch.  I use applesauce in my recipe to replace some of the oil which bakes to a lighter texture and reduces some of the calories.  I also prefer pecans as I find them to contain less oil.  You can always substitute walnuts if you prefer.  Before baking, it’s important to have all the ingredients at room temperature.  It will reflect in the end product.  So take all the ingredients out of the refrigerator several hours beforehand.

I made carrot cake to serve at my daughter’s engagement party.  One recipe was used for one 12” inch round layer cake pan.  I made two layers and doubled the icing recipe to frost the cake.  The cake was enjoyed by many.  To prepare, I baked the cake one day prior to the party.  I iced the cake just before company arrived as I couldn’t fit a 12” layer cake in my refrigerator.  For the names on the cake, beforehand, I melted white chocolate and poured it onto wax paper to form a flat disk.  When cooled, I used some of the icing I colored green to write the names.  When I finished icing the cake, it was easy to place both disks right on top; especially just before guests arrived.  Try this recipe, for a birthday, special occasion or dinner with friends.

To bake, you will need two 8-inch round layer cake pans

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Have all ingredients at room temperature; this is important

Sift before measuring:

1 ½ cup of all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur)

Resift with:

1 ½ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt

Mix these ingredients together and add to the flour mixture, stirring well:

2/3 cup canola oil

2-3 tablespoons applesauce – added to the oil to equal 1 cup

1 ½ cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, beaten

Add and blend in well:

¼ cup ground pecans

2 ¼ cups grated carrot: most often yield from (1) bunch

Bake in two greased and lightly floured layer cake pans-first lined with parchment paper for 40 minutes. Test center with toothpick.

Cream Cheese Icing:

1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine cream cheese with softened butter, with electric mixer, beat on medium speed until smooth.  Reduce to low speed and add sugar, gradually, beat until smooth.  Blend in vanilla extract, beat until smooth.  This can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated until ready to use.  It should be brought to room temperature to frost the cake. I have done this and whipped it slightly just before using.

Helpful hint: When preparing the cake pans, I first thinly coat the bottom with butter using the wrapper from the stick.  Then I cut the circle out of the parchment paper using a paper plate as the template.  I then place the parchment paper circle in the pan.  I recoat with butter and lightly flour with Wondra flour.  Wondra flour is fine, coating the pan evenly.

Variations: To decorate, simply spread some ground nuts on top or along the sides; or you can use short strokes when frosting to form peaks across the top and sides.