We are very aware that everyone has strong opinions when it comes to carrot cake. Whether it’s about the addition of nuts, raisins, or pineapple, or the spice combination that make your family recipe special, we know that everyone has a favourite version of this classic dessert. My family recipe is rustic and easily has DOUBLE the amount of carrots than most recipes resulting in a super super moist texture. For a festive Easter garnish, we’ve made these pretty candied carrot peels. Kids will love to snack on these and help you arrange them on your cake.
Go ahead, have an extra slice. It’s mostly carrots!
For the cake
- 2 1/2 cup grated carrots
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 c vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 cup walnut or pecan pieces, optional
- Pinch of salt
For the frosting
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 package cream cheese, 250g, room temperature
- 4 Tablespoons maple syrup or 1 cup icing sugar, plus more to adjust to taste
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Zest of 1/2 lemon, optional
- Pinch of salt
For the candied carrots
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
- 3 medium sized carrots, various colours
Make the candied carrots
- Preheat oven to 225. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel strips of your carrots. Apply a bit of pressure so that strips are not too thin. Once you reach the core, it will become difficult to peel. Set those aside for your cake batter and move onto the next carrot.
- Combine water and sugar in a pot and heat on medium high until you reach a simmer. Add your carrot strips and reduce your heat so that it keeps a simmer. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until transparent. Watch carefully and do not walk away. If you are doing different colours of carrots, do this in batches going from lightest in colour to darkest.
- Drain your carrots and arrange on your baking sheet so they don’t touch and are straight. Bake for 20 minutes, until firm but still slightly tacky.
- Remove from oven. Prepare a plate of sugar and add peels to the sugar and toss gently until well coated. If sugar isn’t sticking, brush a little remaining syrup onto the carrots before tossing.
Make the cake
- Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a 8″ or 9″ cake pan by lining it with parchment paper or coating liberally with oil.
- In a large mixing bowl, add your carrots, oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until well combined. In another bowl, whisk together your flour, spices, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry into the wet ingredients and fold until almost entirely combined. This will look like a crazy amount of carrots, but don’t worry! Fold in your chopped nuts.
- Add your batter to the cake pan and flatten the mixture. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. When baked, removed from pan and cool.
Make the icing and assemble
- Using a hand or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix your butter and cream cheese until well combine and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add your maple syrup or icing sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest and mix for 1 minute. This icing is not too sweet to balance the candied garnishes. Taste the icing at this point and add icing sugar to your taste if you would like it sweeter.
- When your cake is completely cooled, add your icing on top and use the back of spoon to create dramatic swirls. Arrange your candied carrots on top. Slice and enjoy!