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What Makes a Very Moist and Dense Carrot Cake?

Deborah Feb 14, 2011 02:49 PM

I love a dense and moist carrot cake. What should I look for in a carrot cake recipe to be sure this is the way it will turn out?

  1. Monica Feb 16, 2011 07:30 AM

    The best carrot cake recipe is from Epicurious.com..look for triple layer cake cakes...
    It's the BEST...even my pastry chef sister loves the recipe. It's perfectly moist.. it's perfectly dense yet fluffy at the same time..perfect balance!

    6 Replies
    1. re: Monica
      toveggiegirl Feb 16, 2011 07:56 AM

      This one?

      1. re: toveggiegirl
        mcf Feb 16, 2011 08:05 AM

        Very similar to mine, except for nutmeg, raisins and pecans. Would definitely be a moist, dense cake.

        1. re: toveggiegirl
          Monica Mar 7, 2011 08:27 AM

          Yes, this is the recipe.

          1. re: Monica
            millygirl Mar 20, 2011 09:54 AM

            Question please....

            I would like to make this carrot cake but rather than 2 layers I want to bake it in a bundt pan. Would this be okay?

            1. re: millygirl
              magiesmom Mar 20, 2011 11:23 AM

              yes, it will work but will take at least half again as long.

              1. re: millygirl
                Monica Mar 22, 2011 10:31 AM

                Yes, as magiesmom mentioned, it will just take longer...you will have to watch the cake...you can even lower the temp to 325 if it bakes too fast outside.

        2. j
          jvanderh Feb 16, 2011 07:20 AM

          In my experience, replacing eggs with yogurt makes cakes moister and denser.

          1. aching Feb 15, 2011 09:42 PM

            I agree with the crushed pineapple rec.

            1. sarahjay Feb 15, 2011 07:01 PM

              I grind my carrots in the food processor, not to mush as they are ground raw, but much finer than you would get with a grater. It makes for a great cake texture, especially for those who say they don't like carrot cake.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sarahjay
                Wtg2Retire Feb 16, 2011 07:25 AM

                In my experience, using the hand grater for the carrots makes a much tastier cake. When using the food processor to grate, something gets lost and the cake is not as tasty.

              2. f
                Feastonthcheap Feb 15, 2011 05:05 PM

                Crushed pineapple is part of my carrot cake ingredient list...

                1. j
                  jolovescooking Feb 15, 2011 10:21 AM

                  I also love adding some wheatgerm!

                  1. mcf Feb 15, 2011 09:30 AM

                    My favorite carrot cake recipe has plenty of oil and a small can of crushed pineapple. It's also dense with carrots and nuts. It weighs a ton when finished.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: mcf
                      Deborah Feb 15, 2011 05:03 PM

                      mcf: do you have a recipe for your favourite carrot cake recipe? Sounds exactly what I'm looking for!

                      1. re: Deborah
                        mcf Feb 16, 2011 06:12 AM

                        Here it is:

                        2 C sifted flour
                        2 tsp baking powder
                        1 1/2 tsp baking soda
                        1 1/2 tsp salt
                        2 tsp ground cinnamon
                        2 C sugar
                        1 1/2 C salad oil
                        4 eggs
                        2 C finely shredded carrots
                        1 (used to be 8.5 oz) can drained crushed pineapple in juice
                        3 1/2 oz unsweetened flaked coconut (or adjust sugar)
                        1/2 C chopped walnuts

                        sift together flour, salt, b. soda, b. powder and cinnamon

                        beat at med. spd. 1 min. oil, eggs, sugar, then stir into flour mixture

                        stir in carrots, coconut, nuts, pineapple


                        1/2 C butter, soft
                        8 oz cream cheese, softened
                        1 tsp vanilla
                        1 lb box 10x sugar

                        Blend, chill before using.

                        bake at 350 (my old, stained copy of this does not give baking time and I don't remember it, but use fairly wide cake pans if making layers, or it's very, very tall, this affects cooking time.
                        I think it's about an hour, but don't quote me. I had to type this from a friend's steno pad recipe covered with grease spots and haven't made it in a few years.

                        1. re: mcf
                          chowser Feb 16, 2011 07:21 AM

                          That packs a lot of oil for the cake! My favorite, thus far, has been Alton Brown's. The yogurt makes it nice, dense and moist, as long as it's full fat.


                          1. re: chowser
                            mcf Feb 16, 2011 07:25 AM

                            I think the oil is really a wonderful part of the cake, I would never use anything else, but I do substitute walnut oil for salad oil, which usually has stuff in it I don't use/eat. I can see how half oil/half butter might be as good or better, but honestly, if you're going for broke, this cake cannot be beat, have never tasted as good or better from any venue.
                            I think it's a well known cook's recipe that I got from a friend, but I can't recall where I saw it, years after I began making it; I'd like to give credit where it's due, aside from my old friend Lynne.

                      2. re: mcf
                        chowser Feb 16, 2011 03:37 AM

                        Is it low(er) carb? If so, I'd love the recipe, too, to make for my father.

                        1. re: chowser
                          mcf Feb 16, 2011 06:16 AM

                          No, it isn't, but I've made it reduced carb in the past. I used carbalose flour (adjust liquid, it needs more typically, batter should pour, not be thick/dense/slow. I also subbed a combination of erythritol, xylitol and liquid sucralose for sweetener in the cake. Once, I processed xylitol into confectioner's sugar for frosting, but that led to unfortunate gastric effects, so don't recommend it. Better to cut the frosting by half (the recipe makes a LOT), using maybe sugar, processed xylitol and liquid sucralose combined. Best you can hope for is reduced carb, not low which is why our family favorite is no longer in rotation unless specifically requested.

                          1. re: mcf
                            chowser Feb 16, 2011 07:20 AM

                            Wow, thanks--I don't have those ingredients so probably wouldn't do it. I thought it might be just using Splenda or something simpler. I'll stick w/ cheesecake or custard.

                            1. re: chowser
                              mcf Feb 16, 2011 07:30 AM

                              I get an icky mouth feel and aftertaste from Splenda, but cutting it by half with other sweeteners knocks that out. I also use liquid sucralose to avoid all the carbs in granular Splenda, which are quite high when measuring by cups full, from maltodextrin.
                              All the sweeteners I use are available in local stores, so easy to come by.

                              In addition to cheesecakes and custards, you can make pretty low carb rhubarb crumbles in season, using nut topping with seeds and with some CarbQuik if you like. And don't forget Robert's brownies from the recipe on the Scharffenberger bittersweet wrapper and my favorite chocolate decadence, Boule de Neige. Insanely good and very low carb with adjustments.

                      3. mamachef Feb 15, 2011 06:34 AM

                        My secret is that to any decent-sounding recipe you find, add a large jar of baby food carrots.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: mamachef
                          ipsedixit Feb 15, 2011 10:13 AM

                          The problem with adding pureed foods (i.e. apple sauce or crushed pineapples) is that it makes the cake less dense, but does increase the moistness factor.

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            mamachef Feb 15, 2011 10:17 AM

                            True that, ipse. One thing that I've found pretty helpful flies in the face of all baking advice, but for a sheet cake (which I realize is not generally how carrot cake's prepared, but it can be) I take the cake out of the oven about 3-4 minutes before it's done, and use a spatula to press the cake down evenly in the pan. This has worked incredibly well for fudge sheet cakes and lemon as well. Oh, another thing that will help is to replace the liquid called for in the recipe with carrot juice, or at least for part of the liquid.

                            1. re: ipsedixit
                              goodhealthgourmet Feb 15, 2011 03:28 PM

                              The problem with adding pureed foods (i.e. apple sauce or crushed pineapples) is that it makes the cake less dense
                              ah, but only if it's *in addition* to all the fat/oil...i use applesauce to *replace* some of it.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                onceadaylily Feb 15, 2011 04:43 PM

                                And *that* (the decreased density using those substitutes) was what was sticking in my head today after I saw this thread. Can you provide a ratio for the fruit to oil? I'd like to know which I am better off erring on the side of.

                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                  ipsedixit Feb 15, 2011 05:45 PM

                                  ah, but only if it's *in addition* to all the fat/oil...i use applesauce to *replace* some of it.


                                  That would make it less dense, at least if by "dense" one means rich in texture.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    goodhealthgourmet Feb 15, 2011 06:04 PM

                                    by dense, i mean heavy & compact...which you can still achieve by *replacing* some of the oil with pureed fruit, but not so much if you keep the oil content as-is and ADD pureed fruit as well. so let's say you're using a recipe that calls for 1 cup of oil - if you replace half the oil with applesauce you'll still get a dense (& moist!) cake. but if you keep one cup of oil and add applesauce to the cake as well, you end up with a looser/less dense cake. probably a bit soggy too ;)

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                      ipsedixit Feb 15, 2011 06:13 PM

                                      Well, that's no doubt true, but it's not going to be more dense than a cake made without applesauce or pureed fruit as a substitue for the oil and butter.

                                      More moist, yes. More dense? No.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                        goodhealthgourmet Feb 15, 2011 07:26 PM

                                        i never said it would be *more* dense...just that you can *still* get a dense cake that way.

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                          ipsedixit Feb 15, 2011 07:46 PM

                                          Ah, I see.

                                          I am too dense to pick up on your nuances.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                            goodhealthgourmet Feb 15, 2011 08:03 PM

                                            ha! funny :)

                            2. ipsedixit Feb 14, 2011 05:47 PM

                              I used to have to make carrot cake for a living.

                              So through trial and much much error, here are my tips for making the carrot cake not only dense but mucho moist.

                              TYPICAL: Most recipes call for 2 teaspoons of baking soda.
                              MOIST/DENSE: 1 teaspoon of soda and 1 teaspoon of baking powder

                              TYPICAL: 2 cups of sugar
                              MOIST/DENSE: 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar

                              TYPICAL: 1 cup of oil
                              MOIST/DENSE: 1/2 cup of oil, 1/2 cup of butter

                              One last tip. Macerate your carrots. That is, let your shredded carrots and your two types of sugar sit in a bow for 15 minutes so juices start to form. This is critical IMO to a moist cake.

                              Hope that helps.

                              Good luck.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                Deborah Feb 14, 2011 06:19 PM

                                ipsedixit....exactly what I'm looking for.....thanks so much! Carrot cake requested for my husband's birthday.

                                1. re: Deborah
                                  ipsedixit Feb 14, 2011 06:20 PM

                                  Well, lets then hope that hubbie was good to you on v-day.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    Deborah Feb 14, 2011 06:28 PM

                                    I am blessed....with hubby....been together 42 years....we are now down hill skiing for a 4 day holiday.....lovely inn....champagne etc.... making a carrot cake not a big deal!!

                                  2. re: Deborah
                                    chowser Feb 15, 2011 09:23 AM

                                    To make it healthier, you could also replace half the flour w/ white whole wheat and that would add denseness, too. I don't use brown sugar but mix white w/ molasses (replace 1-2 Tablespoons of sugar w/ molasses) but go heavier w/ molasses to make it more dense. I find carrot cake very forgiving and usually err on the side of too much carrot for moistness.

                                  3. re: ipsedixit
                                    Riatta Feb 14, 2011 07:59 PM

                                    Any chance you would share your recipe?

                                    1. re: Riatta
                                      raygunclan Feb 15, 2011 09:05 AM

                                      any chance she would share her vacation? ;)

                                      1. re: Riatta
                                        ipsedixit Feb 15, 2011 10:13 AM

                                        Any chance you would share your recipe?


                                        Which one would you like?

                                        This thread just reminded me that I also use daikon sometimes to make a "white carrot cake"

                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                          Riatta Feb 15, 2011 06:12 PM

                                          Yours ;)

                                    2. free sample addict aka Tracy L Feb 14, 2011 05:46 PM

                                      Pureed cooked carrots.


                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L
                                        greygarious Feb 15, 2011 06:24 AM

                                        Along the same lines, Cook's Illustrated recommended including a jar of pureed carrot baby food.

                                        1. re: greygarious
                                          mamachef Feb 15, 2011 06:35 AM

                                          whoopsie, you got there first, greygarious!

                                          1. re: greygarious
                                            free sample addict aka Tracy L Feb 15, 2011 06:29 PM

                                            Great idea, thanks for sharing. That would certainly cut down the prep time.

                                            1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L
                                              greygarious Feb 16, 2011 06:16 AM

                                              As I recall, the baby food is in addition to the grated carrot, in place of some of the oil, to bump up the carrot flavor.

                                        2. i
                                          Isolda Feb 14, 2011 05:16 PM

                                          The carrots themselves add moisture, so I'd look for a recipe with a high carrot: flour ratio.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Isolda
                                            Deborah Feb 14, 2011 05:35 PM

                                            Good advice....Isolda....thanks so much!

                                          2. goodhealthgourmet Feb 14, 2011 03:19 PM

                                            some people add canned pineapple to keep it moist...though i'm personally not a fan so i use applesauce instead.

                                            brown sugar will give you a denser cake than one made with white sugar; grating the carrots very finely helps with density as well.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                              greygarious Feb 14, 2011 05:06 PM

                                              I find some carrot cake recipes to be too oily so I replace some of the oil with the juice drained from the crushed pineapple.

                                              1. re: greygarious
                                                Deborah Feb 14, 2011 06:21 PM

                                                Thank-you Greygarious....I am always looking for a more healthy recipe.

                                                1. re: Deborah
                                                  greygarious Feb 15, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                  This week I hybridized CI's oatmeal snack cake recipe with Martha Stewart's hummingbird cake recipe to make a batch of 12 cupcakes. Instead of soaking the quick oats (note: MUST be quick, not OF or instant) in water, I used the pineapple juice.
                                                  I used whole wheat pastry flour for all the flour. Ate one still warm - meh. But after a night in the fridge, they were terrific. I made a note to myself to try making carrot cake cupcakes with this basic recipe. The oatmeal is not only healthy but I think would contribute to moisture and density.

                                              2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                Deborah Feb 14, 2011 05:34 PM

                                                goodhealthgourmet....exactly the advice I was looking for....thanks so much!

                                              3. monavano Feb 14, 2011 02:59 PM

                                                lots of oil

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: monavano
                                                  alkapal Feb 14, 2011 03:40 PM

                                                  LOL monavano -- exactly my thought!

                                                  1. re: monavano
                                                    mateo21 Feb 15, 2011 10:21 AM

                                                    I was about to reply and say: Fat.

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