In California, in the 1970’s, carrot cake was the prevalent hippie cake, found at picnics, weddings, in delis, and in 13” by 9” pans at potlucks. It has a vegetable in its very name yet is moist and spicy-sweet. In Suzi’s and my wedding cake business, Ivy Lane, it was one of our two most popular wedding cake flavors. (The other popular flavor being our luscious lemon yogurt cake, featured in our June Wedding Reception Tea on this website.)
Our Carrot Cake recipe is a version modified from a C & H Sugar promotional cookbook, published in the 1970’s or 1980’s. A quick internet search finds a C & H Carrot Cake recipe on their website which is unfortunately not the original recipe. It sadly lacks one of the outstanding features: crushed pineapple. Check out the modern recipe here: C & H Sugar carrot cake recipe They have replaced the granulated sugar with brown sugar which might be okay, but why risk it? The one odd thing they kept was the notion that it should be frosted with orange buttercream frosting instead of everyone’s favorite, cream cheese frosting. You’ll notice I’d crossed out the very name of that imposter frosting and written in cream cheese. You can see that this is a well-loved recipe. We’ve been making it as a layer cake or a sheet cake for so long, I’d forgotten that the original was made in a tube pan. It does work in a tube pan, but it might be too moist to be turned out of a Bundt pan with success.
Rose made a delightful 13” by 9” Carrot Cake for my mom’s 70th birthday that we still recall with fondness and hunger pangs. She decorated the cream cheese frosting with strips of candied carrots which were very attractive and tasty. I used her idea when creating a gluten-free Carrot Cake for an auction. (It fetched $250!) I made carrot slice “flowers” and candied them in a sugar syrup. Not that pretty; I think Rose’s natural candied curls were better. An easy and traditional garnish is chopped nuts, strewn about the top and or sides of the frosted cake.
Adapted from a C & H Sugar recipe
- 2 ¾ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg or mace (No nasty cloves!)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable oil, such as canola
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 packed cups shredded carrots
- 1 can 8 ½ ounces crushed pineapple, undrained
Preheat oven to 350˚F
Special equipment: sifter or sieve, 2 large mixing bowls, wooden spoon, silicone scraper, 2 8” or 9” cake pans, sprayed with baking spray, lined with parchment circles and sprayed again, cooling rack
Makes one 8” or 9” layer cake
- In large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside
- In another large bowl, with wooden spoon, beat sugar and eggs until incorporated. Beat in oil and vanilla. Stir in carrots and pineapple.
- Add dry ingredients to egg mixture. Stir until combined. Divide batter into prepared pans.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean when inserted into center of cake layers. Cool on rack for 10 minutes. Turn out layers and remove parchment papers, cool completely on rack.
- Fill and frost with cream cheese frosting. (1 cube of butter, 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese and 1 box of powdered sugar, beaten until smooth) Store chilled until serving time.
Some notes on the carrot cake
- 1 large carrot makes about 1 cup of grated carrot
- More grated carrot is always fine to add to the batter
- The recipe makes about 6 cups of batter
- It’s fine to double the recipe; use a total of 2 ½ cups oil
- Doubled, the recipe makes two layers each of 6” and 10”
- A teaspoon of apple or pumpkin pie spice in place of the other spices is fine
- Some people like to add grated coconut to the batter