simple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting

i mentioned early this week that we hosted some friends with little ones for an easter egg hunt and brunch last saturday morning. this carrot cake was the first dish i knew would be on the menu as my mom has made it a handful of times for various birthdays, holidays, and saturdays. it's the perfect cake for a party - it's easy, coming together in basically one bowl and no fussy layers, delicious, fitting for easter and springtime, and i felt a little less guilty letting my toddler have a piece knowing there are carrots tucked inside. oh and i've yet to meet a person that doesn't like carrot cake.

believe it or not we had leftovers, which went to work with me for our office. we are a staff of roughly a dozen, and like most offices, our kitchen area is where many of us often bring in leftover treats from home to share with the rest. when i went in to heat up my lunch at noon, i noticed there was one piece of cake left and egged two of my coworkers to eat it. one already had a piece, the other - the newest, who joined our team around christmas - asked me a few questions - did i make it? what kind of cake it is? how much is a piece? how much?! i asked her and quickly told her the cake was free to anyone who wanted it. she saw my note on top "carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (nut free)" and thought it said "carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (not free)". needless to say, the piece was on her plate and a forkful in her mouth while the other two of us were having a good laugh.

simple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
adapted from cook's illustrated
makes 9x13" cake

a note on cream cheese for the frosting. full fat cream cheese will make a frosting thick enough to spread on the sides of the cake. low fat cream cheese or neufchatel will make a thinner frosting that won't hold up to being spread on the sides - see my pictures, i used neufchatel and simply poured the frosting over the top of the cake and spread it around a bit with an offset spatula.

for the cake:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 pound carrots, peeled and shredded/grated

for the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese or neufchatel, softened
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. preheat your oven to 350F. grease the bottom of a 9x13" pan. if you want to flip the cake out of the pan to serve, line the bottom with parchment paper also. set aside.
  2. to make the cake, sift or whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl - flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.
  3. in the bowl of your food processor, add the sugars and eggs and blend until smooth and frothy, about 20 seconds. with the machine running, slowly add the vegetable oil and blend until smooth, about another 20 seconds.
  4. add the suagr-egg mixture and carrots to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. spread the batter around evenly in your prepared pan. bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. cool completely in the pan for about 2 hours before flipping out, if you choose. if you flip the cake out of the pan, remove the layer of parchment paper from the bottom.
  5. while the cake cools, make the frosting by combining all of the ingredients and mixing until smooth. ice the cooled cake with the frosting.

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