I fancy myself a bit of a carrot cake connoisseur, as I've baked many, many, many varieties in my lifetime, and eaten even more. I won't pretend that this is the best carrot cake ever, but it's unique. What probably jumps out at you first is that there are no nuts. No walnuts or pecans. Nothing. It's been neutered, castrated, snipped, and eunuchized. (Note to self: Use eunuchized in a sentence today.)
Why, you ask? Did I candy all my nuts and promptly eat them? Well, yes, but that's not the only reason. You see, this carrot cake is different because it's made with butter as the primary fat, not oil. I'll be the first to admit that one of the reasons I love making carrot cake is that it's usually a one-bowl affair. Wet stuff--oil, eggs, pineapple, sugar--gets mixed with dry stuff--flour, leavening agents, spices, nuts, raisins, coconut, what-have-you--and you're done, no mixer needed!
While admittedly requiring a little more effort, this recipe is not one to ignore. It's less light and fluffy and more dense and hearty, almost like a pound cake. I skipped the common add-ins like nuts, coconut, pineapple, and raisins, in favor of enhancing the buttery richness and aromatic spices. While not the most amazing carrot cake in the world, I think it's definitely worth a try if you're in the mood for something different. How's that for
Neutered Carrot Cake
Makes 3 9-inch layers or about 30 cupcakes
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) butter, room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup water
- 8 to 10 medium carrots (3 cups shredded or grated)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans or put liners into 30 muffin cups.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg and set aside.
Beat butter and sugars with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; beat 3 minutes. Add vanilla and water and beat until well combined, about 2 minutes.
Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture; fold in the carrots. Scrape batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly.
Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (Cupcakes take about the same amount of time, but check at 25 minutes.) Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cakes to loosen, and turn out cakes onto rack. Turn right side up, and let cool completely.
Make the cream cheese frosting as directed.
To assemble, place one cake on a serving platter and spread 1 cup of the frosting over the cake. Top with second cake. Spread 1 cup of the frosting over the cake. Top with the remaining cake. Spread the remaining frosting over top and sides. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.