We don’t have one of those really long preludes to this recipe where we talk about how “[insert name] usually hates carrot cakes, but they just love this one!” (Although to be fair, multiple people on our team usually don’t like carrot cakes, and sincerely do love this one.) We think a carrot cake is one of the best Springtime desserts, and this recipe in particular is a lovely way to serve a simple yet stunning cake to your guests as you celebrate the fact that it’s finally warm enough to hang around outside.
A few things to keep in mind for a carrot cake with major compliment potential:
- Always use freshly grated carrots for the best texture
- Reach for high quality spices + toppings — trust us, they’ll be worth it
- Practice patience while your cake is cooling (this is the perfect time to mix up your frosting)
We baked ours in our favorite Netherton Foundry spun iron cake pans, but your baking vessel is up to your discretion. Decorate this carrot cake to your liking, add some edible flowers, frost it rustically – the choice is yours. Whatever you do, just tag us if you post the photos on Instagram (it’s @hawkinsnewyork or #athomewithhawkins).
THE HAWKINS CARROT CAKE
For the cake:
3 cups carrots, grated (a food processor shredding blade works well)
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups butter, melted, or coconut oil
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup whole pepitas (optional)
1 cup dried apricots, chopped loosely to the size of raisins
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
For the frosting:
1 stick of butter, softened
8oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
For the top:
pumpkin seeds (optional)
dried apricots (optional)
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 325°, position racks evenly towards the top. Grease two 9 inch diameter cake pans with butter and line the base with parchment paper. Then lightly dust with flour, shaking off any excess. Set aside.
Step 2: In a bowl, whisk eggs, melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until evenly distributed.
Step 3: Combine dry and wet mixtures. Once it has a smooth consistency with no lumps, add carrots, walnuts, pepitas, and chopped apricots. Mix until well combined and evenly distributed.
Step 4: Pour half of the mixture into each baking pan and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake for 35-45 minutes, rotating pans and switching shelves midway. Start checking the cakes around 35 minutes, to determine if the center is set and cooked through. A skewer or knife should be inserted and clean/dry when removed. If it doesn’t, try checking again every 5 minutes or so. Once it comes out clean, remove the cakes from the oven.
Step 5: Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack, then allow cakes to cool completely before frosting.
Step 6: While your cakes cool, start the frosting. First, cream the cream cheese and butter until fully combined, either with a hand mixer or with a standing mixer. Working in 1/4 cup batches, add the confectioners’ sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once smooth and shiny, add lemon juice and fully incorporate. Taste and add more sugar to your liking.
Step 7: To frost the cake, place one layer of the cake, right-side up, on a cake plate or stand. Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth a 1/3 or so of the frosting all the way to the edges. Top with the next cake layer, right-side up and use the rest of the frosting to cover the top (and the sides if you’d like).
Step 8: Finish the top layer with chopped apricots and pepitas in any design or style you like. Place the cake into the refrigerator for 15 minutes, just to set the frosting. Afterwards, keep the cake at room temperature for serving.
This carrot cake will keep for up to 2-3 days at room temperature.