Carrot Cake Recipe & Six Years of Pro Bono Baker

Six years ago today, I searched the internet for a recipe while making dinner in Hyde Park, Chicago and discovered the world of food blogs. My first few dozen posts were nothing to write home about, but I quickly became hooked on this worldwide community of food lovers -- and this website as a place to catalogue my favorite recipes. 

Christmas Carrot Cake

Thank you dear readers, commenters, rss subscribers, flickr photo viewers, and twitter followers. I am continually honored to share this part of my life with you, and grateful that many of you do the same. This community grows rapidly each year, and while I have to admit to missing some of the intimacy and the earnestness of the early years, I am grateful for the inspiration and friendship that each new year brings. 

Christmas Carrot Cake

Best wishes to you all. I look forward to cooking with you in this new year!  I am off to New York for a long weekend and I leave you with this wonderful, classic carrot cake recipe. 

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from Bon Appetit


For the cake:

2 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¾ tsp ground ginger
1 ½ C sugar
1 C vegetable oil
4 large eggs
½ C unsweetened applesauce
3 C finely grated peeled carrots

For the frosting:

16 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
½ C unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 ¼ C powdered sugar, or to taste
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon juice


Preheat oven to 325°F.

Lightly grease three 9-inch round pans with butter. Line the bottom of the pans with lightly greased parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. 

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to incorporate after each addition, followed by the applesauce. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and beat to incorporate. Add the carrots and gently combine.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake, rotating the cakes once or twice during baking, until they begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool the cakes in their pans for 15 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely.

For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until smooth.  Sift in the powdered sugar and beat to incorporate. Add the vanilla and lemon juice and beat to combine. 

Place one cake layer on a cake stand and spread with ¾ cup frosting. Place another layer on top and repeat. Finally, add the third layer and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides. Serve the cake at room temperature.

Nick and I decided to make this cake for Christmas and we knew oven space would be scarce. We made the cake layers on Christmas Eve and wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap once they were cooled completely.  The cake kept well overnight.