Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
I’m not sure if it’s because bunnies eat carrots (and the Easter Bunny is, by name, a bunny) that I associate carrot cake with spring and the Easter holiday, but it seems like the moment I spot a blooming daffodil or box of colored egg-dye at the supermarket, I get a craving for carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Am I alone here?
Food historians trace carrot cake back to the Medieval period, when carrot puddings were a way to get some subtle sweetness without sugar (the carrot is a true powerhouse for both raw, savory, and sweet eating), but over time carrot pudding evolved into carrot cake. The 1960’s in particular was a big decade for the sweetly spiced carrot cake in America, when it was touted as a “healthier” cake option thanks to the shredded carrots, but generous amounts of sugar, oil, and eggs have a way of cancelling out carrots, and this cake has those, too…not to mention frosting.
This carrot cake recipe is a classic, calling for plenty of shredded carrot, crushed or finely chopped pineapple, walnuts, nutmeg, and cinnamon. And the frosting, of course, is a rich and tangy cream cheese. I don’t know why carrot cake and cream cheese frosting go so well together, but they sure do.
Carrot cake can be made as a layer cake, but if you stick to a sheet cake baked in a 9×13-inch pan you only have to frost the top, and the cake is as portable as adding a layer of plastic wrap or a snap-on lid. After adding the frosting, which consists of just smoothing it across the surface with the back of a spoon, I spooned equal amounts of what was left into small bowls, which I then tinted orange and green, so I could pipe some fun carrot bunches on top where each “slice” would be cut. It’s an extra step for sure, especially if you dig out the piping bags and icing tips from the cake decorating dungeon drawer (all bakers have one), but I think we can all agree the effect is worth it.
Even if they do look a little bit like palm trees instead of carrots. Oh well.
If you don’t want to add the carrots, just leave the frosting as is, or feel free to sprinkle with extra nuts.
Moist and flavorful with noticeable carrot, pineapple, and nut pieces, my co-workers here at Yankee had no trouble helping me eat this carrot cake. Make one for your spring or Easter table and see if your friends and family don’t follow their lead.