Let me just start by saying…I apologize that I tend to open every post talking about the weather here in southeastern Wisconsin, but I do believe that Mother Nature has been majorly confused lately! The first few weeks of April have been colder and more snowy than much of our winter even was! All last week I felt so sorry for all the bewildered robins and frozen daffodils that must have been wondering, “what in the world is going on?” I am looking forward to much more normal spring weather hopefully coming here soon in the weeks ahead!
We spent the weekend hunkered down at home – it was mostly cold with rain/sleet/snow mix – and celebrated my hubby’s birthday with a family dinner and this amazing naked carrot cake! Have you noticed these naked cakes trending recently? From the name it sounds like they should be rather scandalous in nature, but in reality, it is simply a cake with “stripped down” (pardon the pun!) frosting that still looks and tastes amazing.
I am personally not a huge fan of carrot cake, and have never actually made one from scratch…until now. My husband loves it and requested it for his birthday, so I found this great recipe on Cooking Channel’s website. This cake is no joke. It is serious business! Three layers of dedicated effort that was instantly devoured. It was worth every bite.
Start by getting your equipment ready – in order to make your life easier, it would be great if you had the following items in your kitchen to assist you in baking this cake:
- Food processor with shredding blade
- Stand mixer
- Three 9″ round cake pans
- Parchment paper *different from waxed paper!
- Offset Spatula
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line the bottom of your cake pans with parchment paper cut to fit. I went ahead and just traced the bottoms onto the paper, then cut them out. Then spray the sides of the pans down really well with cooking spray.
You will need to prep your carrots so that they are shredded before adding them to the cake batter. I used my food processor with shredding blade to get about 4 cups of grated carrots. They also sell bags of pre-shredded carrots at the grocery store if you want to simplify things even more for yourself!
Next chop up about 1 cup of pecans. Again, you can buy these already pre-chopped.
Last, you need to thoroughly drain a 20-oz can of crushed pineapple. It will need to sit in the strainer for a bit and I used the flat end of a measuring cup to help squeeze out the extra juice.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon & ginger.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, start on the wet ingredients. Beat the brown sugar and oil together until fully combined. Then add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla until everything is combined nicely.
Gently stir in the flour mixture a cup at a time until it is just combined. Then add the shredded carrots, pineapple and chopped pecans into the batter. Try not to overmix it. And really try not to lick the spatula. There are 6 eggs in there honey…salmonella much?
Then you can pour the batter evenly into the 3 cake pans. They have to bake for about 45-50 minutes total, then be allowed to completely cool in the pans for an hour afterwards. If you have remembered to spray down the sides with cooking spray and added the parchment paper to the bottoms, they should pop out pretty nicely for you once cooled.
The frosting is the “guilty-pleasure” of this cake. Two full sticks of room temperature butter along with two 8-oz packages of room temperature cream cheese, 2 cups of powdered sugar, and some added orange extract and zest for flavor makes it pretty darn amazing. Beat all of this in your stand mixer for 2-3 minutes until it comes out light and fluffy. (Room temperature for me means leaving them out the night before so they are good and soft.)
Once your cakes have completely cooled and you have removed them from the pans and the parchment paper, you can start assembling layer upon layer of goodness.
Place the first cake layer down on the cake plate, then using an offset spatula, spread about a quarter of the frosting onto the top. Then stack another cake layer on top of that and repeat with frosting until you have added the third and final layer. You can either leave it just like that, or go ahead and spread a very thin, almost non-existent layer of frosting around the exterior walls of the cake as well. This is what I did, only because I know how dry carrot cake can sometimes be, and this definitely helped it stay moist underneath.
Some added fresh orange zest on the top and it was finished!
I do believe my husband and everyone else at the party really enjoyed this naked version of homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. I’ll admit that I even enjoyed a piece. Now if the weather would just get with the program and match the calendar, we’d be all set for springtime!
Recipe is below in case you want to try this amazing cake for yourself! Enjoy!
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 T. baking powder
- 2 t. baking soda
- 2 t. ground cinnamon
- 1 t. ground ginger
- 2.5 cups light brown sugar
- 1.5 cups vegetable oil
- 6 large eggs
- 2 t. vanilla
- 4 cups grated carrots
- 20 oz crushed pineapple with juice drained out
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 lb. cream cheese at room temperature
- 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3 t. fresh orange juice or extract
- zest from 1 orange, plus more for garnish on top
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line three 9" round baking pans with parchment paper and spray the sides with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger.
- In a separate bowl, or in bowl of stand mixer, beat together the brown sugar and oil until fully combined. Add the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla, scraping down the sides if necessary to ensure that all is combined.
- Gently stir in the flour mixture. Stir in carrots, pineapple and pecans. Careful to not overmix.
- Pour the batter evenly into each of the 3 cake pans and bake until cake is fully set, 45-50 minutes. Cool completely for about 1 hour in the pans.
- For the frosting: Beat the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, orange extract and orange zest with mixer until smooth and fluffy.
- When completely cooled, remove cakes from pans and place 1 layer on cake plate.
- Using an offset spatula, spread one layer of frosting over top of cake layer all the way to the edges.
- Top with another cake layer and repeat process with remaining frosting and cake layer. Smooth additional frosting lightly over edges of cake, if desired.
- Top with fresh orange zest.