I can’t eat a piece of carrot cake without thinking of my sister. Ever since I can remember, she has chosen to have a homemade carrot cake for her fall birthday. I should mention she is my older (and only) sister. I like to remind her that she will always be the older one, even though we are only 20 months apart.
I will admit I can be pretty merciless when it comes to birthday cards. You see, in my family the funnier the card, the better. I have been known to purchase “the perfect card” for her months in advance, and if it points out how “old” she is, all the better.
Tradition runs pretty deep in my family so it is very unusual to ever waver with the decision of what kind of birthday cake you choose each year. Yet, year after year our mom asks the following question, “What kind of cake do you want me to make for your birthday?” My response is always the same, Angel Food Cake. My sister’s response is always the same, Carrot Cake. Carrot cake is one of those rich, moist cakes that is chock-full of goodies. This recipe, Homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, has mandarin oranges, coconut, pecans and of course, carrots. It has just the right touch of cinnamon, too. Since my sister is allergic to nuts, her birthday cake is made without the pecans. I love pecans, so since I wasn’t making this cake for her I was happy to include them. When I make carrot cake I like to prepare all my ingredients before I begin mixing the batter together. So, I melt the butter, open the canned mandarin oranges, grate the orange zest, chop the pecans and grate the carrots. Normally I buy the little mini carrots since they are just the right size for eating, but for this recipe I buy regular full-size carrots. The larger carrots are much easier to grate.
Once the ingredients are prepped, heat the oven to 350°F. In a large bowl combine 1 cup melted butter, the brown sugar, sugar and eggs.
Beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl often, until smooth.
Add the mandarin oranges (do not drain the oranges as you want to add any liquid that the oranges are packed in too), vanilla and orange zest.
Continue beating until well mixed. The oranges will break apart as you beat the mixture.
Now add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.
Make sure you reduce the mixer to low speed so you don’t send flour flying all over the kitchen, and beat, scraping the bowl often, until well mixed.
By hand, gently stir in the coconut, pecans and carrots…
…until well mixed.
Pour into a greased and floured 13x9-inch baking pan.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool the cake completely. I usually place the cake on a cooling rack so the air will circulate and cool the cake more quickly.
When the cake is completely cooled, it’s time to prepare the cream cheese frosting. Combine all the frosting ingredients, except for the chopped pecans, in a medium bowl.
Beat at medium speed (start on slow speed and slowly increase to medium so the powdered sugar won’t go flying all over), scraping the bowl often, until smooth and creamy. I think cream cheese frosting is simply beautiful – it’s so smooth and silky.
Frost the cooled cake by gently spreading the frosting.
Feel free to get a little fancy as you frost and create a design in the frosting by swirling the frosting with the spreader. There is no right or wrong way to frost a cake, just have fun!
Now, sprinkle the chopped pecans over the frosting.
Voila! Homemade Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting – and it’s not just for birthdays.
Once you’ve tried Homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, I’d enjoy hearing from you. Please rate and review the recipe, too.
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Becky Wahlund is the Director of the Test Kitchens for Land O’Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz® Blog.