Recipe: Carrot Cake


Dear Offspring,

A crowd-pleaser. This recipe by Maida Heatter produces a moist, not too sweet, cake. Great for dessert and breakfast alike. You would be greatly served using a food processor to shred the carrots; if God plants you in a land with little electricity, it is likely you won’t have cream cheese either. In such circumstance, remember that you will always have cake when you come home. 

Love from Mom

Carrot Cake

by Maida Heatter (‘Book of Great American Desserts’)

(All comments are my own)

Serves 16



1 cup dark raisins

2 lb carrots, to make 4 cups shredded, firmly packed*

1 1/2 cups or 5 1/2 oz walnuts, broken into medium-sized pieces (roughly in quarters)


2 cups minus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tsp double-acting baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder


4 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla essence 

1 cups granulated sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

1 1/4 cups canola oil



Preheat oven at 350F. 

A. Steam the raisins for 10 minutes. I truly believe that doing this, as well as adding more carrots than usual, contributes to the exceptional moistness of this cake. 

B. Sift all the dry ingredients together into a large bowl. 

C. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or a large bowl with a hand held electric mixer), beat the eggs. I find doing this for 10 minutes creates a fluffier cake. Beat in the vanilla essence, both sugars and oil and continue whisking until thoroughly mixed, remembering to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. 

Add the sifted dry ingredients (B) and mix at very low speed until just incorporated

Using a spatula, fold in the raisins, carrots and walnuts (A). I find standing on a stool to make me taller or sitting on the stool with the bowl between my legs makes this a much more ergonomic task. 

Butter three 9″ cake pans and line with waxed paper cut to fit.** Divide the cake batter equally between the three cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the tops just spring back when pressed gently with your fingertip.***

Take the cakes out of the oven and let them rest in their pans for 2-3 minutes. Turn out the cakes and, on a cooling rack, let them cool top side up (you will need to turn twice) with the waxed paper still on the bottom. When cool, brush  off any crumbs and freeze for at least 1 hour. This will prevent them from breaking up when you frost. 


16 oz cream cheese

4 oz unsalted or European butter

2 cups confectioners / powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence



When you are ready to frost, bring the cream cheese and butter to room temperature. Using an electric whisk, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. On low speed, add the vanilla essence and powdered sugar and incorporate, turning up the speed to beat until smooth. 

Take the frozen cakes out and, on a cake plate lined with 4 strips of waxed paper arranged in a square, place one cake bottom side up. The waxed paper strips should touch the cake all around and cover any exposed parts of the cake plate. Remove the waxed paper on the cake’s bottom. Spread a thin layer of frosting (about 2/3 cups) evenly over the cake. Gently place the second cake, also bottom side up, on top of the first layer, remove waxed paper and spread another thin layer of frosting. Repeat with the third cake until you have a three layer cake. Use the rest of the frosting to cover the sides of the cake. I find that this amount of frosting does not yield the prettiest cake, but is just the right amount of cake:frosting ratio, taste-wise. Slowly pull out the waxed paper strips from underneath the cake. Refrigerate and serve cold. 


Heatter recommends decorating the top of the cake with marzipan carrots or whole walnuts. If you have the time, candied carrots ribbons or curls make a very pretty alternative – recipe here
* Heatter suggests 1 lb carrots unpeeled to make 4 cups shredded, but I peel the carrots and always find that I need 2 lbs of carrots to make 4 cups shredded. Like Heatter, I’ve shredded carrots manually with a grater, a hand-held shredding tool, and later in life discovered the food processor. Like Heatter, I’ve found little difference in the results. 
** You need to do this even if using non-stick cake pans because it will keep the cake moist in the later stages. Heatter recommends buttering and sprinkling bread crumbs over the waxed paper but I’ve never found this necessary. 

*** Heatter suggests arranging the three cake pans on two racks, making sure no pan is directly above another. I solve the problem by using two ovens; you may wish to do so as well if you have double ovens.


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