A Carrot Cake Smackdown

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Abby Dodge is a contributing editor at Fine Cooking magazine and the author of The Weekend Baker.  For Fine Cooking's Carrot Cake "smackdown," Abby created a classic carrot cake, complete with cream cheese frosting.  Her competition is Jehangir Mehta, chef and owner of Graffiti in New York.  Jehangir made spiced carrot cakes with candied carrots and pistachios.  Find the recipe here and vote for which cake you prefer.



Photographs: Scott Phillips, Fine Cooking

Classic Carrot Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields one 9" layer cake; 
Serves 12 to 14

1 cup canola, corn, or vegetable oil; more for the pans
2 cups (9 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour;  more for the pans
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4  tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp table salt
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups (8 3/4 oz) lightly packed, finely grated  carrots
2 cups packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 lb cream cheese, softened
12 oz (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 lb (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
4  tsps pure vanilla extract
3/4  tsp table salt

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil and flour the sides of two 9x2-inch round cake pans, tapping out any excess flour. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. In a large bowl with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the oil, eggs, carrots, brown sugar, walnuts, raisins, and vanilla on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just blended, about 30 seconds. Divide the batter evenly  between the prepared pans. Bake until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly pressed and a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean, 28 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pans to loosen the cakes, invert them onto the rack, remove the pans, and carefully peel away the parchment. Set the cakes aside to
cool completely before frosting.

Make the Frosting
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter with the mixer on medium speed until very smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat on medium high until blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cover the frosting and
set aside at room temperature until the layers are completely cool.

Assemble the Cakes
Carefully set one cake upside down on a large, flat serving plate. using a metal spatula, evenly spread about 11/2 cups of the frosting over the top of the cake. Top with the remaining cake layer, upside down. Spread a thin layer (about 1/3 cup) of frosting over the entire cake to seal in any crumbs and fill in any gaps between layers. Refrigerate until the frosting is cold and firm, about 20 minutes. Spread the entire cake with the remaining frosting. Refrigerate the cake for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days. The cake is best served slightly chilled or at room temperature.


Good Food Producer Holly Tarson was inspired by Abby's baking prowess and she decided to make a cake for her dinner group.  It wasn't a carrot cake, but it was still delicious.  Read about it on the Good Food blog

Music break: We're All Connected by Medeski, Martin and Wood