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All Mom wants is a carrot cake

I've made them in the past (and would really prefer a bakery cake!) but since it's Mom's 80th birthday, she deserves homemade.

The recipes I've used have produced an overly moist and sometimes oily cake. I want one that is most, but with a more cakey texture. And while cream chese frosting is great, other, lighter suggestions would be appreicated.

Thanks to all in advance.

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  1. Alton Brown's carrot cake is a cakey carrot cake and moist but not overly so or oily.


    I made it w/ a pineapple cream cheese frosting. You could try a thin layer of browned sugar frosting. But the cake is good enough to have on its own.


    2 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      I made this last night, used Greek yogurt instead of plain. I cut down on the oil by using 6 oz VOLUME of oil instead of 6 oz (by weight) that is called for. (I hate oily carrot cakes, too.) You might try to substitute some butter as well.

      Try mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese.

      1. re: chowser

        I usually use Ina Garten's recipe, which I like a lot, but my nephew requested a pineapple-free cake so I thought I'd give Alton's a try. It was excellent.

        Like jayken, I used liquid measure for the wet ingredients, which means only 3/4 cup oil. The cake was plenty moist but not at all greasy. It has plenty of spice even though it doesn't call for much. I added 1 cup toasted chopped pecans and 3/4 cup raisins. I might add 1 teas. vanilla next time, but otherwise I'll stick with Alton's recipe.

        I made an extra 1/2 recipe of frosting, baked the cake in my 9" spring-form, and split it so I could frost the middle. Two 9" cake pans would work, too.

      2. I really love Joy of Cooking's carrot cake.


        I can't help you with the frosting because, well, I believe cream cheese frosting is a must on carrot cake.

        1. Tish Boyle's The Cake Book has the BEST carrot cake I've made ever.

          1. Sorry, but your OP jus' don' soun' rite'. I grew up in the 1970's. Back then, carrot cake was ALWAYS, as you say, moist-oily-cream-cheesey. Then, in the 1980's, in the wake of nouvelle cuisine as re-invented by the Trois Grois Bros and Micheal Girard, all effort went into 'lightening up' traditional heavy, caloric desserts with disastrous consequences.
            Now: if your mum wants an original, traditional carrot cake that she had as a child, go with the previous JOC reference.
            OTOH, if your mum wants an up-to-date-hoity-doity-low-cal-low-fat carrot cake recipe-with-out-cream-cheese-frosting, I admit defeat.
            [sigh]. did I mention that the first thing I cooked on my own as a college student was the carrot cake recipe from JOC? [cheescake was the second].

            1 Reply
            1. re: jerry i h

              I don't even know if the JOC recipe would be considered oily or moist by the OP, I just know that it's delicious.

            2. how can carrot cake made with grated carrots have a cake-y texture?

              carrot cake is one of my absolute favorite cakes. imo, i've gotta have cream cheese and nuts for the frosting.

              3 Replies
              1. re: alkapal

                I think of carrot cake as an excuse to eat a lot of cream cheese frosting.

                1. re: chowser

                  chowser, i'm right there with ya!!

                  1. re: alkapal

                    me too lol carrot cake is a cream cheese frosting delivery vehicle ;)

              2. OH OH OH Hope I am not too late!!! Use the one from here (Chowhound) it is the best ever.


                I have made it 3 times and I can't say enough good things about it.

                Seriously...make it now! Carb lover did a great job with the research.
                Oh, and I add raisins cause that's how I roll.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sparkalina

                  Glad to hear that my carrot cake recipe still does it for you, sparkalina! I won't hold the addition of raisins against you. ;-)

                  Note that I've changed the original recipe's icing ratio to be 4 parts cream cheese to 1 part butter (instead of the original 3:1). Yeah, I'm w/ the folks who believe there is no point to carrot cake w/o the cream cheese icing.

                2. Thanks all for your input! Have to laugh at Jerry. I value your opinion of the "correct" carrot cake, but this old body can't handle the richness anymore. And, Mom is 80, so I want her to enjoy it especially!!! And be able to take home the leftovers.
                  I'm going to look the suggested recipes up for reference and hope I can come up with something good!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: janetms383

                    Found it <sigh>.
                    1) I lied: I was in college in the 70's. My childhood was in the 60's (jeez: have I become that vain?).
                    2) since I have become so vain, wish to delineate my search, inasmuchas I have seen something similar to what you ask for, but just can't bring it to my frontal cordex.
                    Went through all my pro baking books, figuring someone figured how to do this w/o buckets of veg oil: wrong, they all required oil 1/2 cup up to 1 1/2 cups (yum!). Then, thought of zucchini "bread": not so much oil or fat. Not: clearly having a "senior" moment; all the recipes have just as much oil as carrot cake. Then, thought of banana bread. Friend recently proud of having a banana tree that made bananas, gave us all small sample. Mine was small amount and much black from being overripe, I made banana bread. Hey, won't his work? NOT! The recipe had no fat or oil, but relied upon the mashed bananas for moisture. I guess you could take carrots and do glazed carrots then mash, but it will not provide any moisture.
                    Then, epiphany: Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham. She has a carrot bread recipe that uses only 1/2 stick of butter (4T). Never tried this one, but confident that it will work.
                    BTW: I think this book is hands-down the best home baking book. If you do not already have it, humbly recommend you buy it and chuck all of your baking books.

                    Now: about the frosting. I am about to commit heresay, so hold onto your bishop mitres. Get a can of white frosting from the grocery store. Whip it well with a few drops of vanilla extract until nice and soft. Now, spread a super-thin layer over the top of the carrot cake.

                    1. re: jerry i h

                      "Get a can of white frosting from the grocery store."

                      COL! (new acronym for "crying out loud")

                      what about using applesauce as the "oil" substitute?

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Canned frosting instead of cream cheesy goodness? Ewwwwwww!
                        I know it's way too late to help the OP but instead of using all that oil in the recipe, use one stick of melted butter and half a cup of unsweetened applesauce. Then go to town with the grated carrots and whatever else you want to put in the cake.
                        I made some wonderful 'fruitsalad' muffins last week - 1 serve applesauce, 1 superripe mashed banana, some crushed pineapple, and my regular cake ingredients. Put carrot into the recipe and voila, carrot cake. Mmmmmm they were good!

                  2. I don't like oil in carrot cake, I prefer butter. This recipe will make a three layer cake or a 13 x 9 x 2 pan cake. The orange icing recipe below has nice flavor to compliment the cake.

                    Carrot Cake

                    3 sticks unsalted butter (softened, room temp.)
                    2 cups granulated sugar
                    2 cups all-purpose flour
                    2 teaspoons baking soda
                    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
                    1 teaspoon salt
                    4 large eggs
                    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
                    3 cups grated carrots

                    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
                    2. Butter and flour three (9-inch) cake pans or 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan and set aside.
                    3. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat.
                    4. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
                    5. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the eggs, beating well after the addition of each.
                    6. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
                    7. Add the carrots and beat on medium speed until well incorporated, about two minutes.
                    8. Divide between the three cake pans (or pour into one large pan) and bake until set and a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 25 minutes to 30 minutes for three pans, 40 to 50 minutes (or longer) for one cake.
                    8. Remove from the oven and let rest in the cake pans for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, remove from the pans, and let cool.

                    Here is a recipe for an Orange Buttercream Icing that goes nicely with carrot cake. One recipe will work fine with a 13 x 9 x 2 cake. You may need two batches to frost and fill a three layer cake, depending on how much icing you want. This recipe makes about one and a half cups.

                    Easy Orange Buttercream Icing

                    2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
                    1 teaspoon orange zest, grated
                    3 cups confectioners' sugar
                    1/4 teaspoon salt
                    1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
                    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
                    2 tablespoons heavy cream

                    1. In a mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.
                    2. Add orange zest and beat mixture at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds. 3. Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds.
                    4. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add orange juice, vanilla, and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

                    Keep refrigerated until use. Will need to soften before use if refrigerated.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                      WOWZA Thanks for the recipe.... 3 THREE!! sticks of butter?? Well, for sure it won't be oily LOL
                      This sounds really good

                      1. re: janetms383

                        It's a rich recipe... Just keep in mind it makes three layers. Most carrot cake recipes only make two. So there is definitely more cake to this recipe.

                    2. here, let duncan hines help! http://www.duncanhines.com/carrotcake/

                      ooooh, that link has a recipe for carrot cake cookies! i'm gonna try that, for sure.

                      1. and under the faq section, it gives the low-fat version: applesauce as substitute oil, and a couple other minor changes....

                        1. just ran across this "light" version that may fit the bill.... http://chowtimes.com/2008/04/27/light...

                          1. next time, here is a neat decorating idea for the carrot cake: http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/2008/0...

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: alkapal

                              Too funny! I love cakewrecks... I it looks like the baby should be holding a tomahawk in his right hand with it raised up like that. Bizarre

                              Btw I made carrot cake sandwich cookies recently that were fab...much more portable than the average carrot cake and since they're smaller than the average slice less cals too YUM!

                              1. re: maplesugar

                                maplesugah, the baby is an atlanta braves fan, who got his tomahawk taken away by ballpark security.

                                also, you gotta gotta gotta give us the cookie recipe, and please put it on my cookie-palooza thread. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/564196

                                1. re: maplesugar

                                  maplesugar, i hope you can see the carrot "babies" again on cakewrecks: http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/2009/0...

                                  that site never fails to make me guffaw.

                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    Looks like we weren't the only ones to find the little carrot riding mohawk sporting babies just a little weird hehe I love the "homage" from Kathy's Kakes too funny!

                                    1. re: maplesugar

                                      just *saying* "carrot jockeys" makes me laugh! ('cause i see those plastic mohawked-things in my mind's eye).

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        lol I really should follow Cakewrecks more regularly. Those Threadcakes are amazing! (I really need to learn this stuff... I can bake but fondant has never been my forte)

                                2. re: alkapal

                                  Personally, I think that cake is *adorable*! And might I expose a deep-rooted twisted streak by saying I don't find it "disturbing" at all...;~)

                                  1. re: cuccubear

                                    now is that avatar bear all hepped up on honey or....moonshine? ;-).

                                3. I recently made Emeril Lagasses's recipe for Carrot cake and I have to say it was very good -- very moist without being dense or oily. I don't know why you would depart from cream cheese frosting though, but I imagine an orange or lemon buttercream would actually be very nice.

                                  Recipe is here: http://savour-fare.com/2009/04/23/nea...

                                  1. I recently made this CHOW featured cake, and it was dense, but not too sweet. Just watch the salt, I just about ruined this cake by following the recipe.