Carrot Cake For a Birthday

Posted on: April 28, 2010

I’ve always been quite reserved when it comes to picking favorites.  When people ask me what my favorite restaurant, movie, book, or ice cream flavor is, I’m always stumped for an answer.  I definitely have long lists of likes (and very short lists of dislikes), but it’s hard for me to pick just “the one.”  It’s probably because I take it too seriously.  After all, “What is your favorite blank?” is used mostly during small talk conversations and with acquaintances.  I highly doubt my opinion would make a profound impact on someone I just met, or that they would even think twice about it.  I know it’s not a big deal, what I say today can change tomorrow, tastes evolve, and trends will turnover, but for some reason I still feel the need to be brutally critical and a little bit too thoughtful when it comes to this favorite business.

With that said, it can be duly noted that when I say carrot cake is my favorite cake, I truly mean it.



I love carrot cake for its earthy, rustic flavors.  It isn’t fussy and works in any occasion.  I also love it because it’s the only cake my mom really baked from scratch.  My mom wasn’t/isn’t much of a baker, but to her credit she did try incorporating that homemade goody stuff into our childhood once in awhile.  We always had a box of yellow cake mix in the pantry and a set of Christmas cookie cutters in a kitchen drawer.

I have my mom’s recipe, which is wonderful and absolutely foolproof.  It is most delicious in its humble form: plain and made as a loaf cake.  I’ve never made any other carrot cake, so I decided to try something new for my friend’s birthday. Enter Ina Garten.  Her recipe is luscious and decadent with thick swashes of frosting.  I wouldn’t replace it for my mom’s, but it’s definitely being added to my repertoire.  The curious addition of pineapple turned out to be perfect.

Other recipes with Pineapple:
Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Carrot Cake

Adapted from Ina Garten

Cake Layers:
370 g granulated sugar
240 ml vegetable oil
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
325 g all purpose flour
4 g ground cinnamon
14 g baking soda
5 g kosher salt
130 g chopped walnuts
450 g carrots, grated
100 g diced fresh pineapple
80 g pureed and drained fresh pineapple

Filling & Frosting:
340 g cream cheese, room temperature
225 g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
300 g confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Preheat oven 175 degrees C or 350 degrees F.

Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.

In a bowl, beat sugar, oil, and eggs together until light yellow.  Add vanilla and drained, pureed pineapple.  Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt into wet ingredients.  Mix.  Toss walnuts with a little bit of flour.  This will prevent them from sinking to the bottom.  Fold walnuts and carrots into batter.

Divide batter equally between two pans and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  When done, set pans on a wire rack and cool completely.

To Make the Frosting:
Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until just combined.  Add sugar slowly and mix until smooth.

To Assemble:
Place one layer upside down on a cake stand or plate.  Spread a portion of the frosting and place second layer on top.  Frost the sides and top.  Garnish with candied carrots.

Candied Carrots

Adapted from Gourmet

I’ve been wanting to make these ever since I saw them in Gourmet over two years ago.  They turned out to be better than I imagined.  Sweet, crispy, and fun!

2 large and fat carrots
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

With a mandolin or vegetable peeler, peel thin layers lengthwise.

In a small to medium saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil.  Stir until all the sugar has dissolved.  Add carrot strips and simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes.  Strain and discard syrup.  Let rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven 225 degrees F.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place candied carrots and bake for 30 minutes.  If curling carrots, roll into a loose spiral.  Return curl to baking sheet, place seam side down, and bake for another 30-45 minutes or until crisp and dry.

Cool completely on baking sheet.

Garnish cake right before serving.

*Can be made 5 days in advanced and kept in an airtight container.


  • Carrot Cake Lover

    This was definitely one of the best I’ve ever tasted and I would know ^^

    Thanks for making the night one to remember.

  • babycakes

    yum i remember when u made carrot cake with ur mom long time ago. drools!!

  • Koko

    Love the candied carrots idea!

  • Alicia

    That looks so pretty! The candied carrot peels look sooo cool!

  • Kaitlin

    Very clever decorating idea.

    I have a hard time choosing favorites too :)

  • Silvia

    As a huge carrot cake fan I can say this looks super yummy!

  • Albert

    Looks delicious! The strips of candied carrots are such a interesting touch. I thought they were strips of candied/dried sweet potato at first. woot!

  • Jun Belen

    Oh my! Carrot cake is one of my favorite cakes and I’ll surely try your recipe. I love how you sliced them and decorated your cake with the thin slices… I’ve never seen that anywhere! Brilliant! And by the way, thank you for stopping by my blog!! Hope you had a great birthday!

  • Meredith

    I love how you did the carrots around the cake. It’s gorgeous!

  • Michelle

    I’ve never seen a carrot cake with such an amazing presentation before. It is simply beautiful. I love Ina’s recipes and I also enjoy pineapple in my carrot cakes, not being a big fan of baking w/ raisins. Those carrots on the side of your cake and curled on your cupcakes just have me swooning.

  • lindsey

    Love the candied carrot curl idea. I was looking for a way to dress up a plain jane carrot cake that I am bringing to a function and this is the perfect way. Thanks!

  • hungry dog

    Wow. That is one of the most stunning cakes I have ever seen! You are so artistic in your baking, it really impresses me every time I visit your blog. And I’m sure this tasted delicious too. Beautiful post.

  • tasteofbeirut

    This is a beautiful and very tasty cake, love the addition of pineapple in it; I keep meaning to make it, it is my daughter’s favorite; now I have a good recipe: yours!

  • Gala

    I’ve never seen a garnish like this on a cake, looks great!

  • Kathy

    Gorgeous! I love the look of the candied carrots.

  • Wizzythestick

    The candied carrots are an amazing idea

  • Emily

    I agree, the candied carrots look great! I love the photo of the raw sliced carrots. They look ready for fun!

  • A Little Yumminess

    I am not a good baker. I wish I could make this cake – or you could make it and send it to me!

  • Margot

    What a beautiful cake! :)

  • Lawyer Loves Lunch

    The candied carrot curls are brilliant! :)

  • Tammy

    two new twists for me on what is also my favorite cake – pineapple and candied carrots. Great job as usual.

  • sunny

    omg you have a lot of fans. including me! this cake looks crazy!

  • Jessica

    Carrot cake is one of my favorites also and I really, really like your presentation with the candied carrots like little crisp soldiers surrounding the cake. It’s very creative – I made my boyfriend a carrot cake for a party I threw for him – if only I’d had this recipe then! Thanks for sharing.

  • Sophia

    I’ve seen so many recipes lately for carrot cake! So far, I think yours must be the best! The other one I really like is Scott’s Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. What do you think? Happy Baking!

  • Jessica

    That recipe seems a bit more decadent than mine with more eggs, vegetable oil, and sugar, but I would love to try baking with gluten and wheat free products! I’ve always been interested in “alternative” baking.

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