Wonderfully moist thanks to olive oil, this easy-to-make carrot cake sticks to basics: no pineapple, no raisins, no applesauce. If you’re intimidated by layer cakes—or don’t have the correct pans—bake the cake in a 9 x 13 pan or muffin tins. (Adjust baking times as needed.)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 pounds (about 4 cups) peeled and grated carrots
- 1 cup raw pecan or walnut halves
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups maple syrup or honey
- 1 cup milk of choice
- 4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Cream cheese frosting (see below)
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease two 9-inch round cake pans. If you’re making classic cream cheese frosting, don’t forget to pull the cream cheese and butter out of the fridge so they can warm to room temperature.
Toast the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet in the preheated oven until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Once they’re cool enough to handle, transfer them to a cutting board and chop them into small pieces. Reserve a couple tablespoons chopped pecans for garnishing the cake, if desired. We’ll stir the rest into the dry mixture in the following step.
In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours, the cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Stir until blended. Add the grated carrots and chopped pecans and stir to combine.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, maple syrup, milk, eggs, and vanilla extract. Whisk until fully blended. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix with a big spoon until just combined (a few lumps are okay). Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and spread the batter in an even layer on top.
Bake the cakes on the middle rack for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the center of the cakes is springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place the baked cakes on a cooling rack and let them cool completely before frosting.
When you’re ready to assemble, prepare the frosting as directed. Carefully invert the cakes to release them from their pans. Frost the top of one cake with about one-third of the frosting. Place the second cake on top, and frost the top with another one-third of the frosting. Finish by frosting around the side of the cake with the remaining frosting. If desired, sprinkle the reserved chopped pecans on top.
When you’re ready to serve, use a sharp chef’s knife to carefully cut the cake into slices. The cake will keep at room temperature for the rest of the day and for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Cream cheese frosting: Combine 1 pound of cream cheese, 4 tablespoons of butter (both softened), and 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla in a large bowl. Beat with a stand mixer or electric hand mixer. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar. Beat until smooth.
Serves 12 — Recipe adapted from cookieandkate.com