Ahem. So. Carrot Cake.
This recipe is not a family heirloom, passed down through generations and lovingly baked for my mom's birthday. Nope. Sorry about that. I think my dad usually bought a carrot cake for my mom at a local bakery. This recipe is, however, extremely delicious. Carrot cake is one of my favorites (a preference inherited from my mom, no doubt), and I've made a lot of different recipes. In the last year or so, I've settled on this recipe, and I now make it every couple of months.
I've noticed that carrot cake goes over really well with Germans. It might be closer to a German-style cake than some other American cakes, which tend toward the really sweet. Also, Germans aren't used to frosting, so I usually make it as a simple one-layer cake without frosting, dusted with powdered sugar. It seems more like an everyday cake that way, and I can justify having a slice with a cup of coffee, or as in last weekend, as part of Sunday brunch (because without frosting, it's totally a breakfast food - basically a muffin - right??). Then, for special events like birthdays, it can be frosted and transformed into a beautiful layer cake.
Adapted from Orangette
I have sized this recipe for a simple, one-layer cake. To make a frosted, three-tier cake simply double the recipe and divide into three pans when baking - the bake time may be a little shorter because the cake won't be quite as thick when divided into three pans, e.g. 5 minutes. Also, it's totally okay to leave out the raisins and/or nuts, if that's not really your thing. But raisins and nuts go really well with carrot cake, so you might want to give it a try.
For the cake:
1 cup all-purpose white flour
1 (slightly heaping) tsp. baking powder
1 (slightly heaping) tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (I use apfelmuss)
2 cups finely grated carrots
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
For the frosting:
1 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup (2 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, or to taste
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 325°F/160°C.
2. Lightly grease a round or square cake pan with butter, and dust with flour.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
4. In another bowl, beat the sugar and oil briefly until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to incorporate after each addition. Add the applesauce, beating to mix.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and beat to incorporate, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula..
6. Stir in the carrots, raisins, and pecans.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
8. Bake approximately 40 minutes, but start checking at 30 minutes. Remove from oven when a knife poked in the center of the cake comes out clean.
9. Cool the cake in its pan.
10. When the cake is cool, make the frosting. With a mixer, beat the butter and the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar on low speed until incorporated. Add the vanilla and the lemon juice, and beat well, turning the mixer speed to medium-high if you need, to incorporate.
11. Frost the cake.