Sunday, March 7, 2010

Recipe Testers Wanted: World's Best Carrot Cake

This carrot cake recipe was so incredibly delicious, it's hard for me to find the words to describe it. I mean, my MS Word synonym tool only has nine other suggestions for "delicious," and while they all work, they just don't do it justice.

I'd love for some of you to test this recipe for me. While
I couldn't be happier with the taste and texture, I'd love to see what you end up with for cooking times. I used a pan slightly deeper and a bit shorter than the standard 9 x 13 called for in the recipe, so it took me longer than the given time. Thanks, and enjoy!

































Carrot Cake
Serves 8

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 8.67523 ounces... Okay, are you guys happy now? ;-)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cups raw grated carrots
1 can (8 ounce) crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger in a mixing bowl for a minute or two; reserve until needed.

In another mixing bowl, combine the sugar, oil, and eggs. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the melted butter. Use a spatula to stir in the carrots, pineapple, and nuts. Stir in the flour mixture in two additions.

Scrape the batter into a lightly greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top springs back slightly when gently touched with your finger. Remove and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting: Use an electric mixer to beat together the butter, cream cheese, milk, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar to form a smooth frosting. Spread evenly over the cooled cake.

84 comments:

Anonymous said...

Two cups of flour? Cups? Really? Seriously? CUPS?

-Dumbfounded in Texas

Anonymous said...

Hehe, I find it little funny after your last post to see you using 2 cups all-purpose flour. :P

Spoon Gouge said...

Didn't your last post support the use of weights in backing recipes for ingredients like flour? What gives?

Chef John said...

We may give both, but this is an editorial decision for the publisher. They usually use only volume measure, as this is the vastly more popular method for America's home cooks. The demo was just to show how you should fill a cup measure. Absolutely, if you can find pro recipes for things like breads and fine pastries especially that are in weight, use them!

Chef John said...

Okay, I added the weight for you people with your new found scale fetish. Cups are, and probably will be for a long time, the units used in home cooking cookbooks, and if you did only use weights, many would not be happy. Like I said, hopefully the publisher decides they want to use both.

Anonymous said...

This was obviously the wrong day to start my diet. I adore carrot cake, I love your recipes, and I can't resist a challenge. This looks rich and delicious. I'll happily let you know how mine turns out.
~Carol

mana said...

can i use microwave instaed of oven? i dont have oven in my new apartment. may you tell me how?thanks

Anonymous said...

How did you make the carrot shaped things on the top????

Petra said...

I will give ths a try sometimes this week. Most likely wednesday or thursday. I will let you know how it turned out.

Chef John said...

The big supermarkets sell small aerosol cans of colored frosting

Anonymous said...

I will make this carrot cake this week. I love carrot cake and have made it often but have never added the pineapple because my husband HATES pineapple. Here's the funny part---He never eats carrot cake anyway! What have I been thinking!!!!
This looks like a great recipe and I look forward to making it-pineapple and all.
Jackie

Karen said...

Oh lawdy. This looks great. I really don't bake very well so this might be a challenge. I didn't know pineapple was in Carrot cake but I'll probably be omitting the nuts because I hate nuts in cake-- (but I like them in other things like on fish or in cookies. I just have a vendetta against nuts in my cake!)

Chez Us said...

Chef,

We will do a taste test for you. Lenny LOVES carrot cake and is the expert in the family on it. Maybe we will video taste it! :)

Chez Us said...

Chef,

We will do a taste test for you. Lenny LOVES carrot cake and is the expert in the family on it. Maybe we will video taste it! :)

Chef John said...

That would be great! I'd love to see what you guys think

Chef John said...

sorry, no microwave version

adri_anah said...

Great! I was planning on making carrot cake this weekend! Now I know which recipe to use! I'm just sorry I wont be able to report back sooner. But anyhow, I bet it's going to taste great!

jud said...

Interesting! This is almost the same exact recipe I developed after years of trial and error, ingredient for ingredient, except for the flour. My recipe uses 3 cups flour; most other recipes use about the same proportions as mine. Quite a difference. I occasionally substitute a 1/2 cup cake flour for same amount of a.p. to get a lighter cake. 2 cups, not 3, huh?

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I am going to try out the recipe this weekend.

genelle said...

I have viewed a number of carrots cake recipes but have never dared to bake one simply bcos my kids will NEVER eat it if they know there's carrot in the cake!!! They will gladly eat carrots in salads, etc but not in a cake. Inspite of this i am gonna try this cake later this weekend and will definitely let u know how it turns out. Instead of pinapple can i use any other fresh fruit? oranges??

Chef John said...

I think the pineapple is a very important component in this. not sure how it would be without. Thanks!

Pam said...

You asked for "testers" so I followed the recipe exactly. This cake is flavorful and moist!

However, I found it had a bit too much of a "greasy" mouth-feel for my comfort. I usually sub some of the fat with pureed fruit, so this could easily just be a personal preference based on past experience and expectations.

Took it to a social gathering of 7 others plus a few kids. The general feeling of the group was that this is a "really good" carrot cake recipe, but not "stellar" We used a 1-8 scale with 8 being "excellent" and the cake scored an average of 6.9 overall.

Several wanted more nuts, two wanted a more pronounced pineapple flavor, one wished there were some citrus zest in the cake or the frosting (yea, we all said WTH?! about zest in the frosting, too)

However, you should know not a single piece remained AND 3 kids plus 2 adults were busted while nabbing frosting on their fingers, from the edges of the empty cake pan.

This is the first negative I've ever had about any of your recipes, Chef, but you did ask. Guess it just shows you can never please everyone. I do hope the experiment and comments are helpful for your cookbook editing, though. Best wishes!

Chef John said...

Thanks for testing! and I would say you had a negative comment since these things are very subjective. I'll take a 7 (6.9) out of 7 everytime!

Constance said...

This is very similar to a carrot cake that I learned to make in high school more than a few years ago, and it is simply delicious. My recipe calls for 1 cup of oil instead of 1-1/4 cup plus the 1/4 cup of butter, with all the other ingredients remaining the same. I always felt the cake was too oily and have cut back the fat to 3/4 cup oil. I think that I'll give it a go with 1/2 oil and 1/4 butter to see how I like that. Oh, and chopped toasted walnuts sprinkled on top of the frosting is pretty yummy. It makes great cupcakes, loaf cakes, cakes sprinkled with powdered sugar instead of icing. Can't go wrong with this cake.

Tim said...

Hey Chef John,
I made the carrot cake without the nuts. The taste of the cake and the frosting came out perfect. Also, the cake was a bit caved in in the middle about 1/2 inch below the edges...I baked the cake for 40 min. at about 6000 feet in Colorado. Do you think I should have left it in longer? When I did touch the cake it did spring back up. Also, with some recipes like Brownies I have used the "high altitude" option in the past and it seems to give superior results, which I think adds a little bit more flour and water. However, for some other baking like breads I don't see a a difference with altitude, it is an odd thing. Nonetheless, it still tasted great and the texture seemed not too moist, but not too dry. Everyone really enjoyed it. Also, I did use Ginger from a tube and that seemed to work well.

Thanks,
Tim

Chef John said...

Thanks Tim!

Chef John said...

oh, yes, should have cooked a bit longer.

Anonymous said...

I just made the cake this afternoon. It is delicious. My problem was due to my own stupidity---since I wanted to freeze half of it so I wouldn't eat the whole thing by myself, I removed it from the pan. Oops, I should have floured the pan or at least lined it with parchment paper. Most of the cake remained in the pan.
Oh well, it's still REALLY GOOD and I'll probably eat the whole thing myself after all.
Thanks for the recipe!
Jackie

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef!

Thanks a lot for this recipe, I made it 3 days ago and I have to say that I have never made a cake in my life that turns our so moist, even 3 days after baking it. I followed your recipe entirely even though I don't really like walnuts (you can't get pecans here) but they went wonderfully well with the cake!
Also, I used dry ginger powder.
Also I though that there was a little to much frosting for my taste and decided to you 2/3s of it.

It is delicious! Thank you for Michelangela, Milan.

petra said...

I made this cake and posted some pictures and a report here. Thanks

http://desert-or-dessert.blogspot.com/2010/03/carrot-cake.html

Chef John said...

Thanks for testing!

Hanna said...

I have also made the cake. The whole familly found it very delicious! They asked me to do it again somewhere soon. The only thing that didn't work out was the frosting.. but i guess that I used some wrong ingredients as I live in Poland and probably I misinterpret some of them, like this cheese.. I don't know - it was loose. so I subst. it with whipped cream.

And another thing - the next time I do it - I'll add 0,5 cup less sugar.

But it is definately great recipie!
Hania

Anonymous said...

I made this cake and it was great. So Moist. I followed it exactly, except for Walnuts and Pecans. I had Hazelnuts in the frig. Popular here. Kind of taste like an upside down pineapple/carrot cake. Very Good.
Thanks,
Kim Firenze, Italy

Chef John said...

Thanks! glad u liked it

genelle said...

Baked this carrot cake. It turned out great!! Made half the portion. It was only my hubby and me who finished it off!!! Cut down on the oil and sugar though (both of us on diet). Chef still looking out for a fruit cake (your version) with cherries, sultanas, currants...

Foodblogjunkie said...

Tried the recipe for the carrot cake shortly after it was posted.Even weighed the flour.
Used a 9 x 13 pan. Turned out great! Last piece was eaten yesterday (a week after it had been made) and it stayed nice and moist. Only variation to the recipe was in the frosting where I made only half of the recipe and found that this was more than enough to cover this size cake.
Keep up the great work and wish you good luck on the cookbook.

Chef John said...

thanks!

Simone said...

Could you use this recipe to make muffins ?

Chef John said...

yes, but not sure of the time difference

Eric said...

Chef John,
I made this as a surprise treat for my 17 yo daughter who orders carrot cake for desert every time she has a chance in a restaurant. She says "The best Carrot Cake ever-OMG". So, I guess she liked it. I ended up using a little more pineapple than called for and it was wonderful IMHO.
Thanks Chef, I love your site. Great work.

Eric

Anonymous said...

Dear John,

I really appreciate guys who put their recipes on the net for all to enjoy!
Thank you!
I live in Africa at present and I made your cake as a second cake for my son's B'Day party. As I run out of time, it became THE B'day Cake!!! Put some cute decorations on top, lined up candles and guys loved it! One mom said that she never tried better cake in her Life!
I can send you photo if you like.
I am very happy with your recipe Thank you, once more.
Elle

Chef John said...

so glad u liked it!

cake loveer said...

1 1/2 cups of veg oil seems alot as I am watching my weight. would it work ok with just 1/2 a cup?

Chef John said...

yes, but add a cup of applesauce, it just won't be as rich.

Anonymous said...

Loved it.
Keep up the good work,Chef:)

Kind regards,
Eli

Anonymous said...

I made a cake for 4, dividing all amounts by half but with no pineapple (I didn't have any). The cake is delicious, but I think it needs a little more carrots and a little less sugar. The frosting is way too sweet, it needs half the sugar!

PukaDog said...

I finally made the cake--my first ever, btw--in a 9x13 glass baking dish, following all instructions to the tee. I even went so far as to buy an aerosol can of orange icing and a little tube of green gel icing to try my hand and making the carrots on top (surprisingly, most actually turned out looking like a carrot!). I served the cake to three people who each list carrot cake as their favorite. At least two of them I know are quick with opinion and would tell me either what they would do different or if it was too sweet, too rich, whatever. Well, they all absolutely loved it, gave it rave reviews and demanded the recipe! (I gave them the website and told them the recipe was for a cookbook that's in the works). I asked them if they honestly thought it was too rich or anything, but all three said they thought it was simply delicious as is and ranked right near the top among the best they've ever had. And one of these people is not a fan of pineapple one bit.

As others previously posted, I did find I an incredible amount of frosting, even after putting on three layers. Was all that icing meant to be used on one cake? Or should the frosting recipe be cut in half?

Because I'm trying to be somewhat conscious of my sugar and sodium intake, I'll probably try the next one with a little less sugar and may even try the 1/2c of veg. oil+1/2c applesauce for comparison's sake.

Now for my dumb question: Since this was my first cake and I've never really baked much or shopped for flour much in the past, what's the difference between the bleached and unbleached AP flour? I used unbleached. Would results or taste have been much different using bleached AP flour?

Chef John said...

Thanks for testing! here is your flour info... http://www.differencebetween.net/object/difference-between-bleached-and-unbleached-flour/

rosemary said...

I want to make this for MIL this Sunday. Do u toast the nuts first?

Chef John said...

Its a little better toasted, but raw is fine too. I usually don't

Karen said...

I made your carrot cake and I liked it. Mine was very crumbly. Everyone seemed to like it though. It just wasn't so easy/pretty to cut up. I didn't make any changes to the recipe even though I am at high altitude. Should I have? Does it really make a difference? I have never made a cake until now so obviously I am a beginner. So any guidance you might offer are greatly appreciated.

Here is a link to a picture of my carrot cake.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomkarenpurtell/4605279928/

serenissima_09 said...

Chef John...why so much sugar and oil? It's scary to see these quantities. We gotta watch our weight here.I reduced the sugar to half and the oil to less than half. It's great anyway. And sweet enough. Couldn't use any pineapple cause my husband is allergic but i'm sure would be great. Love your blog, would love it more if it was "lighter" :)

Anonymous said...

Dear chef John,
even my english is not perfect,I try to say your carrotcake is ...oh my dear god!!it meansTASTYYYYY!!!!
But...I used only 1 cup oil and that was enough!plus 1/4 butter of course!
I visit you every day,taking nice ideas!!
Best regards,A.M.

Léa said...

The cake has just cooled down and we ate our first slice a couple of minutes ago, it was juts amazing.
If some people here are Europeans like me, I give you the amounts in grams, I usually don't like conversions, but here it (surprinsingly) worked. DO bake this cake it's amazingly moist and flavoury.
250 grams of flour and sugar,250 grams of carott, about sixty grams of pecans and walnut, 200 ml of oil and 100 ml of melted butter.
Thank you Chef John for this recipe, if some day I'm able to do the carott shaped frosting I'll let you know! :p

hoda said...

I've just made the carrot cake two hours ago and it came out fantastic. I didn't make any frosting because my husband has a problem with his cholesterol . I also used some of the extra battern to make some cup cakes, also amazing. I followed the exact directions . Thank you sooooooooooo much chef for the great recipe

Anonymous said...

Chef John, I am living a high altitude place, around 10000ft. Do you have any suggestions?

And I want to add sour cream in this cake, how much shou ld I put in??
Thank you! I can't wait to make it!!

Anonymous said...

This is the BEST carrot cake I have ever had! However,my daughter just called me so upset because the video said to lightly grease the pan, which she did. This was for a birthday cake, so she was going to take it out to frost it. In this case, it should have been lined with parchment paper. Well, it came out in pieces and she has a mess on her hands.
So, a word to the wise (in this case, not so wise), if you plan to remove the cake from the pan, line it first!!!
Jackie

PS My advice was to make the cream cheese frosting lighter in texture by whipping some cream into it and then "repairing" it with lots of frosting.

Chef John said...

thanks!!! yes, these kind of cakes are way too moist to try and remove! just frost in the pan. you really need a different recipe to layer and frost, etc. i dont even think paper would make a difference.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a 9x13 pan can i use a cake pan instead? how many i change the recipe chef John? Thank alot

Anonymous said...

I don't have a 9x13 pan can i use a cake pan instead? how many i change the recipe chef John? Thank alot

sequimteeth said...

Feedback: Make the cake for my granddaughter's 2 yr old birthday party. Eight folks in attendance. Outstanding results. My granddaughter would not stop eating the cake and we had to remove the piece from in front of her! The icing was excellent. We made the cake in the shape of a carrot.. used orange and green food coloring..it looked great. I can send a picture if you wish. Only thing I would do different next time is use 3/4 to 1 cup of oil instead of 1-1/4. Also, I weighed the pineapple due to having a large can instead of 8 oz. Subtracted what I thought would be the weight of the can. Probably not significant. Thank you Chef! Donation on it way. :-)

mrboliao said...

Hi Chef John,

Can I divide all the ingredients by roughly 4 and serve 2 people? :)

Ariel said...

Too much sugar and oil. I reduced the sugar to 1 cup and oil to 3/4 cup, but still was too greasy.

Lilian said...

for the carrot cake do i use normal white granulated sugar?

and just to check, for the cream cheese topping can i use castor sugar for the powdered sugar?

oh and is it better to just whisk the melted butter in or just cream it with the sugar at the start until its light and fluffy then add the rest of the ingredients?

thanks can't wait to make this!!! cake.

Chef John said...

yes, reg sugar for the cake. i cant answer your other questions since I've only made it this way.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chef John,

Is it possible to substitute the oil with butter instead? How should I alter the recipe to do so? Any suggestions? :)

Thank you!!

Chef John said...

Should work the same, but maybe to buttery?

Evgenia said...

Hi Chef John,
found your blog few month ago and have been following it ever since...and recommending it to everyone I know!!!
While looking through your desserts found this carrot cake recipe. I love carrot cake but never made one. As most of your recipes, this looked simple and inviting :)
Knowing myself, I made few changes (cant eat that much sugar, ruins the taste for me). Made it with 1/2 the sugar and substituted apple sauce for oil. Had to cut way back on sugar in the frosting as well. Just fyi, I usually follow your recipes exactly (and dont try to substitute skim milk for cream :) Just dont like my cakes/desserts too sweet and oily.
Cake turned out great, moist and not too sweet.

Aside from this delicious cake I am eating right now, I just wanted to say thank you for your great blog! I love food and love to cook!! I find inspiration in your recipes! Over the past few month I have greatly expanded my cooking repertoire and learned few interesting techniques. Thank you!

sf said...

8.67523 ounces = 245.938633 grams I had to do that

Anonymous said...

Where is the video for this cake?? I am very sad ;-(

Anonymous said...

This really is the best carrot cake! Thank you so much for your tasty recipes!

Anonymous said...

:O no video????!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I made this cake today, for my in-laws no less, and i can't thank you enough for the recipe.
I live in Pakistan, you know where all the terrorists are, we have carrot pudding, carrot sweets, but very little or no concept of putting carrots in cakes.
So, anyway, everyone just loved the cake, I mean it, no 'oh, it's good but it should be a little more blah blah blah..' none at all!
Straight 'Oh, god this is heaven', and 'Did you really make this, this is just like Hobnobs!' (really famous bakery here.

Again, can't thank you enough. I love your blog. Hope you keep posting even when (not if) you get ultra rich and famous. Thanks a lot!

cheers,
Sara

vicenteragal said...

Please make a video of this!

Martia Sonderland said...

After preparing the cake and comparing it to other recipes, I would like to share some observations:
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil is too much. One cup is fine and the cake turns out perfectly moist.
- the pineapple does not make a major difference, so it can be left out.
- the ginger can't be perceived, so it can be left out as well.
Regarding the frosting:
- just 2 cups of sugar can work pretty well and the taste will not be too "sandy".
- a teaspoon of lemon juice really brings out the flavors. I would recommend it.

Maggiescupcakes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maggiescupcakes said...

hello chef John I'm maggie and was wondering if I can use this recipe to make two 8"round cakes and two 10"round too?? please get back soon and thank you,maggie..

Chef John said...

You could, but not sure how many batches you'd need. Maybe 3?

Maggiescupcakes said...

Hi Chef John , that was fast..lol.lol. and thank you so much for your help ...p.s. I'm trying to make a Two-Tier wedding cake...hugs Maggie.

Unknown said...

Hi CJ, I was just wondering if I could make this a rum spiced carrot cake, would it turn out nice? If so how much rum do you think I should put in there?

Unknown said...

Hey Chef John! I'm trying to cut down on the oil in the recipe, how much of it could I replace with applesauce?

Chef John said...

Sorry, not sure! Maybe half of it?

Chef John said...

Rum might be good, but not sure how much, would have to test.

Unknown said...

Oh pls inform me if u do test out the amount of rum. Thx!!