Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bill's Big Carrot Cake

My mom loves red velvet cake, but my dad's favorite is carrot cake. He's loved it ever since he ate it at a wedding nearly 20 years ago and still raves to this day about how moist and flavorful it was. So, when his birthday came around, I knew that only a carrot cake would do. It wasn't possible to replicate that exact carrot cake since I don't have a recipe for it and I never tasted it myself. Still, I trusted that the highly praised Bill's Big Carrot Cake would at least be to his satisfaction.

It was with great excitement that I began making this cake as a surprise for him. It was also the very first cake that I had ever made from scratch, so I hoped that all would go well. The only changes I made was to leave out the coconut and raisins (we like our carrot cake simple) and the nuts (due to allergies). I also used my own cream cheese frosting recipe. The cake baked up beautifully in the oven and its yummy scent permeated my kitchen.

I eagerly took the cakes out, let them cool a little, and prepared to flip them neatly out of their pans. And, that's when trouble struck. Those cakes did not want to come out. I shook them, my sister shook them, we ran knives around the edges over and over again. Finally, with a ker-plop, out they came. But, to my absolute horror, the bottom of each layer was missing, still glued to the pans, even though I had meticulously greased and floured each one prior to pouring in the batter. I was upset, who wouldn't be? But, as my sister reminded me, it's the taste that matters most. A little frosting could easily glue those pieces back on and no one would be the wiser.

She was right. Once those layers were frosted with some cream cheese frosting, the cake looked perfect.

My dad was definitely surprised and ate a big piece of it with gusto, enjoying every bite. I'm not sure how it stacks up to that carrot cake from the wedding, but it certainly meets my expectations - super moist without being oily, not the least bit heavy, and wonderfully flavorful. You can bet that this cake will make its appearance at many more birthdays in the future.

Bill's Big Carrot Cake (adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours)

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt

3 c. grated carrots

2 c. sugar
1 c. canola oil
4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter three 9x2 inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

Beat the sugar and oil together with a stand mixer or hand mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix in the grated carrots. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 min. until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 min., then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting (Sweet as Sugar Cookies)

2 (8 oz. pkgs.) cream cheese (it's okay if one is low-fat cream cheese)
10 Tbsp. salted butter
2 c. powdered sugar

Beat the cream cheese with the butter until well blended. Beat in the powdered sugar until creamy.

  1. I baked my cake in two round cake pans instead of three. It did rise up high above the pan's edges, but didn't spill over. Still, for your peace of mind, if at all possible, use three pans as the recipe states.
  2. I'd recommend using parchment paper in the cake pans instead of only greasing and flouring them. Half of my cake bottoms stuck to the pans despite the fact that I greased and floured them well.
This recipe is linked to:
Hearth n' Soul Hop
Cast Party Wednesday
These Chicks Cooked
Made it on Monday
Recipes I Can't Wait to Try
Sweet Tooth Friday
Fresh Food Friday
Sweet Indulgences Sunday


  1. Lisa, this is a pretty and delicious cake.
    Happy belated Birthday to your Dad :)

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  2. This is my hubbys most requested cake too. I leave out the rasins- but use coconut and nuts. It's the only way he will eat carrots. LOL. Well, DUH!!!!! ;-)

  3. My carrot cake recipe calls for an entire can of crushed pineapple which makes it super moist. I think your dad is correct - it is the best type of cake!

  4. Looks great. I've seen carrot cake recipes to be really complicated but this one is so simple!

  5. I have to agree with your Dad- carrot cake is awesome and yours looks scrumptious! I kind of like to have holes in a cake- it makes more room for the yummy frosting. :)

  6. I really like carrot cake without the raisins and this is a great recipe for that. Your cake turned out perfect even with the trouble you ran into. Sounds like something that would happen in my kitchen as well. Your dad must have been so happy to receive this cake Lisa. Yummy!

  7. I love a good carrot cake and that one looks delicious. I love the "Happy Birthday Daddy"--so cute!

  8. parchment paper is a wonderful invention, isn't it? I always use it just so I don't have to worry. This recipe looks very yummy. I love a moist carrot cake!

  9. I get so upset when things like that happen. It's always my husband that comes and says, "as long as it tastes good, who cares." Which is true, but I guess we food bloggers can be a little hard on ourselves. :)

  10. OH I have been craving carrot cake lately. I love it with cream cheese icing :)

  11. The cake looks lovely Lisa, I'm pretty sure it tasted fantastic. I love a good carrot cake. Something that should help you get the cake out of the pan easier - What I do is cut some parchment paper to fit the base of the cake pan. I grease the parchment paper and grease the sides of the pan well. I use butter to grease the paper and cake pan. Try it out!

  12. What a wonderful carrot cake. It looks fabulous if that is your first homemade cake! How sweet to make it for your dad :)

  13. Lisa, Here is a link to my carrot cake. It has a can of crushed pineapples and lots of raisins. It is true perfection!


  14. My husband's a big carrot cake fan. I like it with raisins, pineapple, nuts, coconut, whatever you can throw in there!

    Amy @ A Little Nosh

  15. Frosting is the best glue EVER! :) We have ALL had those moments Lisa. More often than we like to admit. Great job and beautiful cake.

  16. I have been wanting to try this recipe. I can't believe this was your first cake from scratch - it looks great!

  17. I love carrot cake too. This recipe looks moist and flavorful. I bet it was terrific. Great pictures.

  18. My favorite too! We've all used the frosting glue :) It still looks delicious

  19. Your carrot cake is beautiful! And looks really delicious! I have bookmarked this recipe from that book for ages and have yet have come round to bake it! Happy Belated Birthday to your dad!

  20. Hi! I got your invite to link up to your blog a little late - but I wanted to let you know I've been visiting your site and am loving the recipes!


  21. You can never go wrong with carrot cake, and looks like a really delicious one. Thank you for sharing this, Lisa!


  22. Lisa this look georgeous! gloria

  23. Happy Birthday to your Dad! So nice of you to make his fav carrot cake.

  24. I agree with Betsy. I always use parchment or wax paper under my cakes. It's saved me many a tear that I used to shed over my glued to the pan cakes. Also, you should only let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. If you leave it too long, it will stick (unless you've got parchment paper:)).

  25. Yummy! My dad loves carrot cake too! I will have to try this recipe. And I agree, no raisins please! :)

  26. Oh, thank you for the recipe! My husband adores carrot cake and I haven't made it for him since his college graduation (meaning, long before we were married). Thanks so much for commenting last weekend--I'm so sorry that I missed your link party, but I'll be sure to link up for this week's sweets roundup.

  27. Lisa,
    Wait a second while I wipe off my screen, I thought I could have some of that wonderful cake. It looks awesome! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and come back real soon.
    Hope you have a great week end!
    Miz Helen

  28. Hi Lisa! What an outstanding carrot cake recipe! I'm always looking for the best to add to my recipe files! I can't wait to make this! Mmmmmm! I'd love it if you could stop on over to Fresh Food Friday or Seasonal Saturday and share this recipe with everyone. Thanks again! Have a super weekend!

  29. Oh my goodness Lisa! I am sending happy birthday wishes to your Dad first and second letting him know what a lucky man he is to have YOU baking for him! What a good daughter! :) I too adore carrot cake and my favorite part is the spicing in the batter and the cream cheese frosting! I so want a bite of your cake! Thanks so much for sharing this with us on the hearth and soul hop! all the best, Alex

  30. This sounds so good! What a lovely cake for your Dad's birthday, Lisa, and you decorated it so beautifully! I really like this recipe and I have bookmarked it to try. Thank you for sharing it with the Hearth and Soul blog hop.

  31. Love the thick layers of cream cheese frosting! It looks rich and delicious. Wish I had a slice right now. Thanks for sharing on A Well-Seasoned Life's Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

  32. Frosting is always a saviour of cakes that don't want to leave their tin!

    The cake look scrummy, I love carrot cake!

  33. Lisa, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful carrot cake recipe on Fresh Food Friday last week. I selected it to be featured on this week's edition. I hope that you can stop by, check it out and possibly share another great recipe this weekend. Thanks again!

  34. This comment has been removed by the author.

  35. These look delicious! I love carrot cake. I've been in the mood to make some cookie sandwiches or whoopie pies.

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  36. After seeing your this recipe I could not stop myself without Making this cake. I made it, it was really fantastic!!!!
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