Sunday, March 24, 2013

miniature carrot cake

Just as I was getting into spring, what with this carrot cake and roasted asparagus recipes and key lime pie (recipe coming soon), it starts snowing.  With a predicted 6-to-10-inch accumulation.  This is not helping my self-diagnosed SAD one bit.

And, no, Mom, I don't actually think that I have SAD.

My mother, you see, thinks I'm one-hundred-percent serious every time I say, "I think I have ____," chalking it up to my being in medical school.  She laughs to herself about how very clever she is that she's diagnosed me with medical students' disease.  Really, though, I only propose that I have such-and-such disease because I, like many other people (I believe, or maybe just hope), have a flair for overstatement. 

In spite of the snow, at least I've been getting things done.  Now making two cakes to send away isn't exactly the kind of stuff I probably need to be getting done, but--hey!--I'm on spring break still.  Even if it is snowing 6 to 10 inches today.  Wait, what's that Wikipedia said about SAD causing you to constantly talk about the miserable weather...?  ;  )

Actually, I think it just said something about causing "difficulty concentrating"....  Which means I have every excuse for jumping around to all kinds of topics before talking about this carrot cake.

This carrot cake would be perfect for a small Easter gathering or one in which you are making multiple desserts.

(If you haven't guessed from my equal volume of real meal and desserts posts, I love desserts.  My family is the same, and we are the multiple-desserts-for-holidays people, if any other such people exist.)

Obviously, I myself did not make this cake for Easter but instead made it because I ended up with a bag of carrots and some packages of cream cheese from my mother's broken fridge.  (Sometimes I feel a little like my cooking & baking life parallels one of those Food Network cooking challenge shows where you get a basket of random ingredients and have to do something with all of them.)

A few notes on this cake before the recipe:  even if you frost the heck out of the cake like I did, there will be at least a little frosting left after doing your final coat of the cake.   I highly recommend sandwiching the leftover frosting between graham crackers as a snack to pack in your lunch.

Cake adapted from Smitten Kitchen.  Frosting is my own.

Note:  I grated my carrots by hand, as the original recipe suggested, because I wanted the moistest, lightest cake possible.  Even though it feels like it takes forever, I do promise you that it's worth it to grate your carrots by hand; it can also be a decent work-out for your arms.  For an 8-inch cake, see the original recipe.


½ plus ⅛ cups vegetable/canola oil
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups grated & peeled carrots
¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
¼ cup raisins (optional)

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil and sugar until smooth and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla.
  2. Add in the eggs one at a time, whisking until each is incorporated.
  3. Beat in the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
  4. Add in the flour.
  5. Fold in the carrots and then the pecans and raisins, stirring until a uniform batter forms.
  6. Butter three 6-inch cake pans.  Line the bottom of each with parchment paper.  Butter over the parchment paper, then flour each cake pan, being sure to dump out the excess flour.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 min at 350 degrees F or until a tester comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pans for five minutes.  Remove from the pans (I don't have a wire rack, so I set mine on plates), and let cool completely before assembling the cake.


2 {8-ounce} packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 stick {½ cup} butter, softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

  1. With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth, being sure to scrape down the bowl several times in between.
  2. Beat the vanilla extract into the butter & cream cheese.
  3. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until a thick, spreadable frosting forms.


After the cakes have cooled, assemble the cake by first leveling each cake using a serrated bread knife.  Then, stack the cakes, frosting in between each layer.  Coat the cake with a light "crumb coat," and then refrigerate for 15 minutes to let the frosting set.  Coat again with a thick final coat of frosting, and then decorate, if desired.  I set aside some frosting and dyed it orange and green and then used this to pipe the little carrots on top.  I made the carrot part first, and then the leaves.  Practice on a sheet of parchment paper first if you want carrots, but you're nervous about whether you can make them!

Makes 5 to 6 servings of cake.


  1. Hi
    I was attracted to this cake , so cute and old school!
    The carrots are so eye catching ( though I have to admit some looks like chillies , ha ha!)

    1. thanks! my carrots definitely have that homemade look, don't they : )

  2. This is such a cute cake! I really love the decorations on the top. I just found your blog, and I am your newest follower! I love the photos and recipes.


    1. thanks you! just checked out your blog.. you have beautiful pictures!